D.C. locavores have another chance to buy honey from two Kingman Park beekeepers. But the supply from H Street Honey might not last long.
Gavin Cepelak, who owns H Street Honey with his wife, Raquel Sherman, said he has harvested about 150 jars’ worth of honey, about half of what he sold last year. Cepelak said he has fewer hives than last year and has new hives that he didn’t want to over-harvest.
“With a new hive, you don’t want to take all of their honey away because they need it to survive through the winter,” he said. “Survival is the main focus this year.”
Cepelak and Sherman started the colonies later than usual this year because Sherman gave birth to their first child at the beginning of the year.
Although H Street Honey’s last batch was available at H Street Organic Market and several other local stores, Cepelak said he and his wife are planning to sell the honey themselves this year.
Locals interested in purchasing some of the honey can email H Street Honey. The honey is $16 for a 9-ounce jar.
Ceplak said he and his wife hope to find a location where they can sell their honey in September. In October, Ceplak is planning to host an event through Mess Hall, a culinary incubator and shared kitchen facility out of which H Street Honey operates. The event will feature two separate sessions for children and adults to learn more about beekeeping and honey cultivation.
“We’re going to do a kind of a bee education and harvesting demonstration for children in the early afternoon, and then in the evening, there will be an adult side of it where we’ll bring in a local pastry chef, a mixologist [and] probably a chef as well so people can taste the honey in different foods and drinks.”
Photo via Facebook/H Street Honey
About 50,000 bees live on the roof of a home in Near Northeast, and more are on the way.
The locals behind the company H Street Honey are preparing for the summer season and expect to sell their products at a growing number of businesses along the H Street corridor and on Capitol Hill.
“We’ll probably have 100,000 bees this summer,” co-owner Gavin Cepelak said. “We’re looking to expand our hives and just keep growing and growing.”
H Street Organic Market sold jars of the honey last year ($15 per 9 ounce jar), Bullfrog Bagels drizzled it on bagels topped with goat cheese, and the new shop Hunnybunny Boutique sold soap made with it. Now, the couple is talking with local restaurants about using the product, and with “one of the kitchen incubators,” Cepelak said.
“Everything is natural. It’s filtered of any wax or pollen,” Cepelak said about the honey made by Italian bees. “You can eat it right out of the hive.”
Honey made by city bees tastes different from the honey produced by their rural counterparts, Cepelak said.
“Urban honey is so diverse because it pulls from so many diverse resources,” he said. “The bees aren’t just sitting in a blueberry field or a cornfield … These bees are feeding in the Botanic Garden, the local community garden, the flowers. They have a concentrated salad bar.”
Cepelak, 33, and his wife, Raquel Sherman, first put beehives on the roof of the home they own three years ago. It began as a hobby after Cepelak saw a documentary about beekeeping. Then, the couple launched their business last summer.
The honey is sold out now but should be back in stores and restaurants soon. The limited product can only be harvested once or twice a year and is usually sold out by November.
The entrepreneurs will pick up a shipment of more bees next week. The insects are being trucked from California to Stafford, Virginia, and will arrive in three-pound packages of 10,000 bees each.
Cepelak said his neighbors haven’t really noticed that he suits up in a beekeeper’s glove and hood on his rooftop.
“People don’t look up,” he said.
Photos courtesy of H Street Honey