Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Old Blue Raw Honey opens tasting room in Philomath

Henry Storch harvests honey. (Photo by Camille Storch)
Local honey makers add a new addition to their homegrown business—a tasting room for their Old Blue Raw Honey in their honey processing facility.

Camille and Henry Storch started selling their honey about two years ago. Both are born and raised in Benton County. They met while working at Gathering Together Farm. Together they built their business.

Henry is a migratory beekeeper, moving his hives to different apiary locations throughout the year. He manages about 500 hives and raises his own queens. Camille handles honey processing, customer service, sales, shipping, and events for Old Blue Raw Honey.

Among their honey varietals, bestsellers include clary sage from Kiger Island; coriander from Shedd; and poison oak from the Cardwell Hill area of Wren. And true to the region, their blackberry honey is always a popular choice.

“We have blackberry-nectar-based varietal honeys from different locations in the Coast Range that are somewhat similar, but if you taste them side by side, you can taste the differences,” Camille said.

Old Blue got its start when friends of the Storches were logging near Harlan and downed several trees with bee colonies living in the cavities. The loggers decided to call someone to relocate the bees.

Henry put the colonies in hive boxes, took them home, and began to observe them. He realized they were quite different from other bees. They were more aggressive, flew in colder weather, were smaller and darker in color, and behaved differently. The colonies had gone feral and had been living unmanaged in the woods for several decades.

Henry has since focused on a breeding program that maintains the traits of those rescued bees, which he believes make them more suitable for survival in the Northwest. He has added a few new breeding lines, but the Harlan tree-dwellers remain the origin of much of their current hive genetics.

True to their product, Old Blue only sells honey from their own hives. They take advantage of an array of nectar source plants for their bees—from crop fields in the Willamette Valley to lush locations in the Oregon Coast Range. They have specialty honeys such as pumpkin, meadowfoam, maple, chittum, and thistle. The nectar source plants give the honeys distinct flavor and character.

“We share a ton of information about the origin of the honey including the harvest date, apiary location, and the nectar source plants,” said Camille. “Transparency about our beekeeping practices is very important to us.”

Old Blue’s honey processing facility and tasting room is located at 23990 Gellatly Way in Philomath. The Storches will not have regular business hours at that location, but the tasting room will be open occasionally for scheduled public tasting events and by appointment for individuals and small groups.

The grand opening will be held Dec. 3 and 4 from 1 to 5 p.m. Snacks, drinks, and honey to taste will be available and varietal honeys, beeswax, and honeycomb will be for sale.

For more information visit oldbluenaturalresources.com or email oldbluerawhoney@gmail.com.

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