BY CHRISTY WILHELMI
PHOTOGRAPHY BY BECKY REAMS
“It fell like an open box of Rice Krispies” when he wacked the branch, he says, adding that the ball of bees immediately started fanning the queen’s pheromones around to attract the rest of the swarm to the box. Now more than 40 years later, Harry has found a home for his 30 varieties of honey at the Mar Vista Farmers’ Market every Sunday.
Harry sells a range of honeys, from deep-flavored, rich avocado, which is great for cooking, to bright—almost clear—varieties like sage and raspberry. His blended honeys—red berry, fig orange and alfalfa sage—offer a refreshing change from store-bought varieties. Along with a selection of infused honeys for brushing on chicken and steak or using in salads, Harry provides honeycomb as a decadent treat.
But for everyday honey harvesting, he prefers not to cut out the comb of his beehives because, “When you do,” he laughs, “the little buggers have to start all over again.” Instead he uses an electric knife to scrape off the caps—a wax coating the bees use to seal the comb—and spins the comb in a centrifuge to remove the honey, leaving the comb intact.
When asked how Colony Collapse Disorder is affecting his business, Harry reveals that he has lost about a third of his hives. About seven years ago he began to notice die-offs and sent samples to his friends at Cornell. Amid all the theories, he personally concludes that the problem is related to pesticides. As a result, he strives to find homes for his hives with farmers who don’t spray.
In the end, Harry likes to keep his product true to form. He doesn’t pasteurize or filter his honey, and he doesn’t buy queens—which are artificially inseminated— when starting new hives. “Oh no,” he says, “that’s messing with nature.” It is exactly this kind of care that keeps his collection of customers coming back for more.
Although you may spot Harry on the road in one of his three ’69 VW buses—look for a license plate that says HNYBEZ—he and his honey can be found every Sunday morning at the Mar Vista Farmers’ Market, or contact Harry at 818.620.4918.