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Sweet Nectar of the Bee’s

Honey is alive and well in Pensacola. You do not have to travel far to discover East Hill Honey Company – they are located in a quaint neighborhood in Pensacola called East Hill.

East Hill Honey Company is owned and operated by Thomas Van Horn and his wife Emily. Recently, they were able to raise funds through the Kickstarter program. The goal was to raise $22,500, in order to increase the total number of hives around town and to purchase new extraction equipment. They not only met that goal, but also exceeded it, with the help of 329 backers. I am included in that count. The company will be able to expand beehives all over Escambia and Santa Rosa County to over one hundred.

Their honey is sold in retail locations such as; Everman’s, Palafox Market, Apple Market and others. I noticed the other morning that Bagelheads on Chase St. sets out East Hill Honey for sweetening coffee and tea. Often their darling little portable shop can be found at different locations around the city.

Along with honey, East Hill Honey produces soaps, lip balm, beeswax candles, comb honey in limited quantities and surf wax. Small jars (3 oz.) of honey are perfect for gifts. The small jars are customizable for wedding gifts.

East Hill Honey has different flavors of honey to choose from, wildflower, orange blossom, tupelo, gall berry, clover, sage and buckwheat. All available depending on what they have been able to make.

When you order honey from them and you live nearby, they will deliver the honey by bike.

I recently had a chance to visit the lovely home of the owners of East Hill Honey Company, talk to them about the business and visit the bee apiary.

Arriving at the Van Horn home, you immediately recognize the warm family feeling of their home and business. Emily Van Horn greeted me when I arrived; she was busy playing with their daughter on the floor. Their daughter is a beautiful and curious child who loves to be outside playing in the garden. Fitting for a child raised in this environment.

Thomas was running late, he had been delivering honey to FloraBama farmers market, so these two ladies had to entertain me. It turns out Wednesday is when he makes deliveries to retail locations. Emily and I toured the garden, and the bee house.

The garden is lush and thriving, the bee apiary is a buzz with activity and the bee house is really nice with clear roofing in spots to deliver natural light. I loved that while touring the honey-processing house, my feet began to stick to the floor.

When Thomas arrived, he was dressed in his work clothes, complete with rubber boots and a light layer of dirt all over him. This is a working man.

Thomas shared with me that he learned bee-keeping from his time being mentored by someone through the Fraternus organization. Thomas now runs the Pensacola chapter, to teach others the same.

I asked Thomas if he was surprised by the success of the Kickstarter project, “We did not know what to expect. We did it in a short amount of time. It was so nice that everyone got the word out. It was overwhelming in a positive way.”

The honey operation uses no pesticides. It is not organic per se. When bees are raised in an urban setting, you cannot guarantee that the bees have not traveled to a yard or area that has pesticides in use. It is hyper local sustainable food source, and that is the mission of this company.

To support and be in the lead of these kinds of efforts is what East Hill Honey Co., is all about.

As Thomas and I looked over his lush vegetable garden, bee hive and herb plantings, I asked what his neighbors think, he says, “They are interested and supportive. We are going to have chickens soon.”

The work of bee keeping is not in the keeping, it is in the extracting and processing. Each bee makes 1/12 a teaspoon of honey and there are about 80K bees in each hive. A third of our food comes from plants that bees are responsible for pollinating.

The health benefits of raw honey are; allergy protection, antioxidants, digestive aid, anti-microbial, inflammatory, fungal properties, used to treat burns and used as a cough suppressant.

WHAT: East Hill Honey Company

WHERE: Various retail locations

DETAILS: easthillhoney.com

Retail locations

Apple Market
1021 Scenic Hwy., Pensacola, FL 32503

Bailey’s Produce
4301 North Davis Hwy., Pensacola, FL 32503

Bagel Heads
916 East Gregory St., Pensacola, FL 32503

City Grocery
2050 North 12th Ave., Pensacola, FL 32503-5303

East Hill Market
1216 N 9th Ave., Pensacola, FL 32501

315 West Garden St., Pensacola, FL 32502-4729

Florabama Farms
6404 Mobile Hwy., Pensacola, FL 32526

Herbs and Things
8625 North Palafox St., Pensacola, FL 32534

Joe Patti’s
524 South B St., Pensacola, FL 32502-5422

Maximillian Coffee
3419 North 12th Ave., Pensacola, FL 32503

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