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Local Spotlight: Bee Wilde Honey

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What: Heavenly honey from a guy that's gone from a figurative worker bee to a literal beekeeper.

Kenny Reed started his corporate life as a FedEx courier. He earned a respectable living at a respectable company that most any guy would be thrilled to work for. And he liked it. But one year during the holiday rush Kenny packed his truck like Tetris and he delivered his lot at mach speed. He was proud of his gold-medal performance -- but instead of earning praise, he was called out by his manager for working too fast. This was not the life he wanted to live.

So he quit and followed a burgeoning passion by going to work for the commercial beekeeper in nearby Navasota. There he grew his own colony of bees and learned the basics of commercial beekeeping. But since his 150 hives were not really enough to earn a living, Kenny returned to work as a part-time courier. As his hives grew, so did his interest, until one day his mentor invited him to take bees to North Dakota, where they went to make honey each year at the end of the summer. So Kenny scheduled a vacation from work and began to make preparations. If it worked out, the 400 colonies would make enough honey to pay for his expenses, plus a little extra to grow his new business... And if it didn't work, he'd still have his job to fall back on. He was ready, the bees were ready, the transport truck was ready... and then Kenny's boss canceled his vacation. Too many couriers were already out, he said.

Kenny wrote his final resignation note that night and left for North Dakota. He spent nine glorious weeks learning from a beekeeper that runs a gargantuan 20,000 colonies of honey bees -- tending to the hives, learning the plants and pollens, and collecting honey. Every minute was golden. And that is how Kenny Reed turned his hobby and passion into a business.

Today, Kenny manages about 1,400 colonies of bees. He searches high and low for the specific wild blossoms that produce a super-tasting combination of native nectars. The Reeds use them to make two varieties of honey: a delicious local honey and a Huajilla/Guajillo, which is milder, slightly smoky, and much lighter in color. For those of you looking to cut back a bit on sugar, honey is a natural sweetener, full of healthy enzymes and plant pollens. Use it on your oatmeal or cereal in the morning, or add it to meats and veggies for a lightly sweet glow. The Reeds even tout their honey for allergy relief: Unfiltered, raw honey produced within a 100-mile radius still contains trace amount of plant pollen, so eating a tablespoon or so every day, they say, can relieve the symptoms of plant- and pollen-related allergies.

Kenny, a busy bee himself, mans the hives daily, while his wife Wendy handles the bottling and delivery. Wendy's also in charge of transforming the beeswax into candles, lip balm, lotion bars, and furniture polish, so that almost nothing goes to waste. It is a pleasure to support these two people who are as sweet as the honey they sell, and as hardworking as those gently buzzing bees.

Where: You can find Bee Wilde honey and honeycomb at the Urban Harvest Farmers' Market on Eastside every Saturday. Want to sample it first? You'll also find Bee Wilde used at Catalan, Haven, Benjy's and Ruggles. Even cooler, the new Rohan Meadery is using Bee Wilde honey in their batches of mead. So drink up -- it's for your health.

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