How much honey does one bee make in its whole life? The answer may surprise you, unless, of course, you’ve bought honey at the Playa Vista Farmers Market.
Robin Ghermezi, the apiarist and educator behind LSG Honey, got into the bee business after a career in the tech industry. Though Robin’s now been selling the sweet stuff for five years, he still exudes the zeal of a recent convert. At the market, he’s generous with his honey samples, and if you linger long enough at his booth, he might convince you that bees are among the most fascinating creatures on earth.
When I approached his stand at the Playa Vista market one recent Saturday, he was handing a spoonful of honey to a dazed looking customer.
“Wait,” the man was saying, “one bee makes 1/4 teaspoon of honey…” he looked to the woman beside him, as if what he was hearing was impossible, “in its whole life?”
Robin grinned as he nodded.
“That means,” the man went on, “that the honey left on my spoon each morning…that’s like, one bee’s whole life’s work?” Robin was still smiling as he reached into a jar, producing a sample of honey for me to taste. It was buckwheat, the color of weak coffee and just a touch bitter: a perfect pairing for stinky cheese. I popped the sample in my mouth. One bee’s entire life’s work, more or less. It tasted delicious.
As Robin produce more samples for me to try: avocado, wildflower, and a mesquite honey that tasted herbal and faintly smoky, the customers beside me strategized. They were determined never to waste another drop of the golden stuff. Should they use a spoon or a wooden honey dipper? Should they leave the dipper in the honey jar permanently so it wouldn’t need washing—but what about ants?
“One solution,” he said, shrugging, “is to drill a hole in to top of a honey jar, and poke the handle of the dipper stick through it.”
Then he handed me a spoonful of lavender honey and began to laugh, conceding that at one point, so many customers were concerned about wasted honey, that he was bringing a drill to the market, tricking-out honey jars so dippers could live in them.
I realized, as I listened, that though the price of honey had not risen a cent—it had, for this pair, grown more valuable. One bee, spent her days sipping nectar from flower’s stamens, and ferrying it back to her hive. Robin carefully tended the hive, and when they had an over-abundance of honey, he skimmed off just enough, to share with us. We can put it in our tea, use it for making, or simply taste it by the teaspoon and marvel. I think that remembering how honey gets to our plates makes it taste a little sweeter too.
LSG hives are never treated with chemicals. Their bees collect nectar in nature and produce honey in their hives, one teaspoon at a time, as bees have been doing for a very long time. You can meet Robin and sample LSG honey at the Playa Vista Farmers’ market every Saturday from 9am-2pm.
Aubrey Yarbrough manages the Playa Vista, Westwood and Hermosa Beach Farmers' Markets for Farmer Mark. Before moving to LA she ran her own organic farm and cooked on the garde manger station at the award winning Elements restaurant in Princeton, NJ. She has contributed to Edible Jersey and her poetry will appear in the forthcoming issue of New American Writing.