May 2, 2011

We’ve been waiting for this moment and it’s finally here 7 days early: Tupelo season. My internal calendar feels all messed up with Easter being here so late and Tupelo getting here early. I was talking to one of our beekeepers, Joe, about all things Tupelo after he’d driven 8 hours with 13 drums of honey for us and he told me that this is usually the time of year he expects to see the Tupelo trees start blooming. Joe is full of more knowledge and anecdotal stories that you could hope for. We’ll have more fun stuff, videos, interviews, and information on Joe up here soon.

Things at the Bee are full steam ahead, which is how we like it. We found out last week that our classic Tupelo Flute was announced as a SOFI nominee for Outstanding Classic. For those not in the specialty food industry (which I assume is most of you), the SOFI awards are conducted by the National Association for Specialty Food Trade. They are (according to their website) “an organization that includes domestic and foreign manufacturers, importers, distributors, brokers, retailers, restaurateurs, caterers and others in the specialty foods business. We bring the industry together with events, business opportunities, education and awards that further our goal of expanding the specialty food industry.” “SOFI” stands for Specialty Outstanding Food Innovation.  We’ve applied for a SOFI award in the past, but this is our first time being nominated, so needless to say, we are pretty excited. The winners will be announced at a huge food show in Washington D.C. this summer (we will be there exhibiting).

Two big projects in the works right now: hand soaps and a new honeycomb box. People are absolutely wild about our honey hand soap and we really can’t wait to bring it back this summer. We already decided on two delicious scents- Tupelo and Blackberry, a new bottle style, a great label. All we need is our new soap base and to finish stability testing and then we’ll be ready. Don’t worry about missing any announcements. If you are part of our monthly email blasts (and if you’re not you can sign up on our website homepage at the bottom), Facebook page, or a Twitter follower- you will hear about this new product.

Another new project that doesn’t smell as good as hand soap (and maybe that’s why people won’t think it’s as cool?) is our new honeycomb box. For years we’ve been packaging our honeycomb in a great, square plastic box. This new box will be much more practical and have a seal that prevents it from leaking! A little cheaper too.

Since spring has come, we’ve had retail store fever.  We’ve decided that before we keep expanding our retail stores, we want to hone in and beautify all of our other stores first. Broughton Street is our flagship store and the jewel in our crown, but we want to make sure all of our other stores look just as great. Our River Street store is finally getting a completed skep for the kids and new flooring!

We had a great time Wednesday (4/27) moving the beehives to the Tupelo forest. Kellen has been before, but it was Brooke and Haley’s first time. Kellen had us cracking up almost constantly. Aside from his being funny as hell, he had an issue with a split in his pants that the bees found. It was still dark, about 5:30 am and we were halfway through loading the truck. He got it everywhere. Kellen also kept us laughing with stories from the retail stores- people busting through the screen doors upon reading our “Free Cheesecake Samples” sign on the window. He says they push both doors open and come in saying, “Cheeeeeesssseeecaaaaaaake!” I’m still laughing about that one.

Brooke got stung on the arm twice and once on the earlobe, right next to her little honeybee earrings. I got a couple dozen or so. The only one that got my notice was when we went to the lift the big hive and realized that the bottom board had a hole in it. Easily 200 pounds, there was no going anywhere but into the back of the truck with this hive. I’m not sure how many places I got stung, but the four in my one fingertip really throbbed all day. Haley got no stings. Her swollen face sting from two weeks ago kept her fairly careful.

Lots happened. The old caretaker at the fish camp is leaving in a few days after 17 years.  Upon arriving he says “Yea, the river road is dry!” and minutes later we found ourselves mired down in mud and mosquito hell with mad bees that were fed up after 10 miles of driving corrugated dirt roads. Stuck. We got through that with some praying and experience getting this old truck unstuck. Of course Kellen pushing the truck in the back may have had something to do with it too. We built a smoke fire when we got there to drive all the mosquitos away. We spent a few hours unloading the hives, settling them in, building and rearranging frames in the hives. Then we went for a celebratory swim in the Altamaha. That was AFTER tromping around through the swamp. It was a great trip and we hope to make enough Tupelo honey to take to the World Honey Show in September in Buenos Aires. I guess we will see in a few days.

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