Update: Thanks for all your support! The sale was a huge success and has come to an end. Stay tuned for more updates about our new honey house.
Old Blue Raw Honey is a small beekeeping enterprise and varietal honey company owned and operated by my beekeeper husband Henry and me. Henry manages about 500 honey-producing hives by himself, moving each hive 6-8 times per year to take advantage of different nectar flows. We extract honey together in the summer, and I do all the non-beekeeping business tasks like bottling honey, handwriting labels, shipping, events, website management, customer service, etc. We do not currently have any employees nor do we have any plans to have employees in the near future.
Okay, folks, this is a call to action. We need your help.
As I’ve mentioned before, we bought a house and property last year, and in October, we finally made the big move. That transition has been fantastic, and we couldn’t be happier with our new living arrangements. One of the primary reasons for the move, however, was actually more business-oriented. We simply needed a permanent space for honey processing and storage for our business Old Blue Raw Honey.
We are now in the final stages of building a licensed and certified honey extraction facility (aka “honey house”) on our new property in Philomath, OR. Our building currently has four walls, a roof, and a concrete floor. We just got our small-batch extractor, and we’ve purchased a used stainless steel bottling tank and commercial sink. Our equipment is scaled exactly to our needs, and we’ve designed the space to be extremely energy efficient both in terms of human effort as well as electrical usage. When this building is complete, it will serve Old Blue Raw Honey and our customers for a very very long time with minimal upgrades and expenses.
The reality is that right now we are scraping the bottom of the barrel of our business and personal finances, and we’re due to be more or less out of money in just a few weeks.
We have the honey equivalent of all the funds we’ll need to finish this project, but we just need to sell it and send it out into the world. If you’ve ever considered buying honey from us, now would be a great time. Will you need a birthday/anniversary/Mothers’ Day/Fathers’ Day/graduation/teacher/thank you/housewarming/hostess gift in the near future? Do you want to invite your friends over for a varietal honey tasting flight? Have you considered joining our honey subscription program? Use the coupon code “HONEYHOUSE” at checkout for 15% off your next purchase from our online store.
What we’re doing is different from other honey companies and different from other direct-market beekeepers.
•We only sell honey from our own hives.
•We give our customers a LOT of information about specific honey varietals as well as about our beekeeping practices more broadly. (Each bottle is labeled with the harvest date, apiary location, and primary nectar source(s). Beyond that, varietal honey listings contain extra information about apiary ecology and nectar source plant characteristics. Customers can also learn more by reading through our FAQ, checking out our blog, or following @oldbluerawhoney on Instagram. )
•We are actively preserving and improving Northwest-adapted honeybee genetics by raising and breeding our own queens and using isolated mating areas to propagate resilient, feral-based stock suitable for both migratory pollination and honey production in Oregon.
We’re not the only honey company doing some these things, but we don’t know of any beekeepers doing all of these things. (If you know someone who is, we’d love to connect with them!)
To be clear, we are not asking for (nor accepting) donations. We are asking for your patronage. This is not a Kickstarter campaign. We already have bees and bee gear, and we’ve had a fairly large honey harvest (~10,000 lbs) for the last two years. To continue to produce great varietal honey, we need to get to the point where the income generated from honey sales can start paying off our considerable investment into this building sooner rather than later.
To establish a honey extraction facility and buy necessary equipment, we’ve spent income from Henry’s horseshoeing services, pollination contracts, sales of bees, logging on the homestead property, and personal savings. We’re also looking into our options for a loan from more traditional financial institutions, but we would really like to bridge this financial gap without going into debt.
We are committed to independently marketing and distributing our honey to customers and a few restaurants and businesses. We want the pipeline from hive to consumer to be as short and direct as possible so that we can continue to guarantee an interesting, quality product. While we are hoping to expand our wholesale honey options after the 2016 harvest this summer, our preference is to conduct most of our sales with individuals. If you value the idea of beekeeper-direct, diverse varietal honey, if you think we should have the infrastructure to keep doing this at a viable scale, please buy honey from us and/or encourage others to do so.
If you can’t buy honey now or if you’ve already made a purchase and want to go one step further, please consider telling your personal and/or professional network about our honey and bee breeding efforts. Tweet out a link to our Spring Honey Sampler. Encourage your friends to follow Old Blue Raw Honey on Facebook or Instagram. Bring some honey into the office, and leave it near the coffee station. Share a link to this blog post or one of our more educational blog post (i.e. queen grafting, freeze-brood hygienic testing, or a colony removal from a barn wall). Feel free to regram any photo from my Instagram feed (@waywardspark) or Henry’s (@oldbluerawhoney) as long as you include our IG handle(s), and if you decide to post your own photos, please tag them with #oldbluerawhoney so that we and others can find them. Or do things the old fashioned way, and tell folks about our honey in person. Bees make for a great conversation starter!
We do not aspire to be the biggest, most widely distributed, most influential, most sleekly marketed honey company in America. We DO aspire to live satisfying lives, provide for our children, be contributing members of our community (both locally and online), educate others through our day to day conversations, take care of our bees to the best of our ability, produce high-quality honey and wax for our customers, and continue to use this business as a chance to learn and grow as curious people.
There’s a lot of talk about “saving the bees” these days, but as beekeepers, we’re not at all confident that signatures on a petition or awareness-raising campaigns by major brands will do much good for the challenges all beekeepers are facing in the modern era. What really does make a difference for us and others is when folks choose to buy beekeeper-direct honey. In our case, your purchases support not just our family but also our bee breeding efforts that we believe are a small but significant step toward sustainable beekeeping in every sense of the word “sustainable” (environmental, economic, bee health, etc).
Thank you so much for your continued support. We really could not do this without you!
Camille and Henry Storch
Connect with us!
website: oldbluenaturalresources.com Use coupon code “HONEYHOUSE” at checkout for 15% off your next purchase.
Here’s our events schedule if you want to see us and sample honey in person.
We’d also like to acknowledge the hardworking contractors and partners who have done a lot of the physical labor to make the honey house possible.
Jim Schrock did most of the dirt and rock work, putting in our new road and making the pad for the building.
John Moser delivered load after load of gravel to our place.
Pete Owens designed the pole building shell and gave us great suggestions about possible added features. His crew (Luis, Rosedel, Serafin, and Manuel) carried out Pete’s vision pretty flawlessly.
Chris Foos and his team did an expert job pouring the concrete slab and loading dock.
Valley Electric is working on wiring up the building.
Albin’s Plumbing is in line to finish up all the water and heating infrastructure.
Contractor Will Harris and Milo Roberson are working tirelessly on the interior buildout and siding.
Eugene and Chip Cooper milled the fir siding for the exterior of the building and some dimensional lumber (out of logs from our homestead property).
Our new custom-built honey extractor was made by Cowen Manufacturing.
Most of our building materials have come from Spaeth Lumber Co., our local, independently owned hardware store.
Many of the people on the list above have been friends and/or horseshoeing clients of Henry’s for ten years or more. They are all reputable, upstanding folks/businesses doing fine work. We can’t recommend them highly enough.