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Organic Honey Production with Julie Hobbins and Robyn Daley

A serendipitous meeting between like-minded folk leads to a conscientious organic honey production business in California.

| Fall 2015

  • Keeping bees is an ancient art creating a mutually beneficial relationship between humans and pollinators. The bee hives are kept cool from the afternoon sun under a large California Coastal Oak tree.
    Photo by Julie Ann Fineman
  • Honey sticks are a fun and easy way to take honey with you on the go.
    Photo by Julie Ann Fineman
  • Bees require a large variety of high nectar plants for their health. Living in a mono-culture weakens the bees and is contributing to their decline. Provide bees a variety of flowering plants.
    Photo by Julie Ann Fineman
  • Beekeepers have been using smoke since ancient Egypt as a natural way to keep the bees calm. Smoke masks alarm pheromones released by guard bees and creates an opportunity for the beekeeper to open the beehive and work.
    Photo by Julie Ann Fineman
  • All suited up to harvest honey. Beekeeping is a low-maintenance hobby with a sweet and healthy pay off.
    Photo by Julie Ann Fineman
  • Rose-infused honey is a beautiful way to preserve the medicinal properties of the rose. Many flavorful and beneficial herbs and flowers can be infused into honey, strained after 2-6 weeks, and then added to tea, oatmeal or anywhere else you want a touch of honey flavor.
    Photo by Julie Ann Fineman

Jules in the Garden with Robyn and Bees

Well, not exactly in the garden, more like in the backyard of Wanda’s modernist renovation, then in an organic orange grove with beehives. So what ties these disparate locales together? A Kinfolk-style gathering exploring the nuances of bees, beekeeping and bee ecology, coupled with an artisan honey tasting.

Combining a bunch of purposes, we are in beautiful Ojai, California celebrating Lee’s birthday, staying in a beautiful house on an organic farm, visiting Wanda’s MODERN FOLK LIVING store in town, shopping for vintage bits used as props for Julie’s agrarian photography … and learning about bees.

MODERN FOLK LIVING is a project of Wanda Weller Sakai, former design director for Patagonia. Her store has “curated goods” representing modern design with a handcrafted feel sourced regionally whenever possible. She’s a kind of retail design-locavore. In her words, “The shop features mindful, thoughtful, questioning, eco-brands.”

One of her related projects is a connection with Kinfolk magazine to build community around gatherings that inform, enlighten and introduce neighbors. For a typical gathering, Kinfolk sets prospective themes, but the local organizers provide the detailed vision, customize to the locale, find a comfortable setting and emphasize participation instead of observation. The honey-tasting is the second of ten events Wanda is planning for this year.

Which brings us to Wanda’s backyard and Julie Hobbins & Robyn Dalbey, partners in Honey by Jules in the Garden. Julie is a landscape designer by trade with degrees in horticulture and culinary arts. Robyn is an artist, but kismet brought them together around bees, literally & figuratively.

Julie is fascinated by the buzzing critters, their social rhythms, their place in the successful ecology of plant species. She has been a “local hobby beekeeper” for 10 years.

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