However Wild Honey

  | Food For Thought, Producer of the Month

However Wild Honey is a family owned and operated apiary located in Shaftsbury, Vermont. It began over 20 years ago with Jim and Gail Howe, and included their son Adam Howe. Through those early years they developed a love for beekeeping and apiculture. The family worked together to draw the artwork for their first Raw Honey label by hand, which was then given to a local printing company who used it to create the honey labels they continue to use to this day. They then sold their honey to a few local stores. This continued while Adam was away at college and after he returned home to Vermont.

The current owners of However Wild Honey are Adam Howe and his wife Ashley Howe. Adam and Ashley grew up in the same church, attended the same college, and both returned to Vermont, where they were married. For a few short years they pursued their individual jobs, but a longing to return to Adam’s first love of beekeeping soon led them to both work in that direction. Ashley was new to beekeeping, but learned quickly under Adam’s tutelage. They worked hard to expand their small bee operation into a full time business over the course of a few years. Jim and Gail continued to work with Adam and Ashley as the business grew. 

Now in 2021 they manage many more hives than in those early years. They produce enough honey to sell to many local stores and co-ops across Southern Vermont. They also raise and sell Mated Queens, Nucleus Colonies, and Bee Equipment as an authorized Mann Lake Dealer. Their honey sales now include three jar lines: Raw Honey, Honey Bears, and iconic glass Mouth Jars; though their Raw Honey line continues to be their best seller as it has been since the beginning. They believe Raw Honey is as close to the way nature intended as possible. Here at the Co-op we carry their Raw Honey line in all sizes of glass jars, honeycomb, and two types of bulk honey—Spring Linden and Fall Wildflower. 

Honey is extracted twice a year: in the spring (which in this region includes nectars from honeysuckle, locust, linden, and buckthorn), and fall (the nectars of which mainly come from goldenrod, asters and knotweed). Summer honey remains liquid for several months before crystallizing, due to the unique composition of the sugar crystals within the nectars, whereas fall honey crystallizes within a month from extraction, also due to the differing, but unique composition of the sugar crystals. A lot of confusion rests as to why Raw Honey varies in texture from season to season. It also goes without saying that nectars from different flowers produce widely differing flavors and the different varieties of those seasons dictate texture. Some prefer the liquid consistency of spring honey, while others prefer the smooth, spreadable texture of the fall honey. Whether you like lightly flavored honey or a more robust floral aroma, there is bound to be a honey that suits your tastes. 

The existence of bees is essential to the livelihood of human beings. Bees pollinate (transferring of pollen from male to female plants enabling fertilization and production of seeds) somewhere in the vicinity of 80% of all plants that grow to feed people across the world. Without bees we simply would not have food staples such as blueberries, almonds, apples, and more. Overall it would be much more complicated for food to grow, and in many ways people simply take bees for granted. The team at However Wild Honey takes deep pride in supporting and maintaining their hives in a manner that allows bees to grow and proliferate. While some of their hives are located on their farm in Shaftsbury, they also have hives on various farms across Southern Vermont, including right here in Brattleboro. 

COVID-19 has brought challenges to just about every industry and business, and apiaries are no different. One of the biggest impacts they’ve seen from the pandemic is a shortage of jars available for bottling. For over 20 years However Wild Honey has used the Mason Canning Jar as an iconic vessel for distributing their honey. As COVID-19 cases rose in late winter of 2020 and grocery store shelves were depleted, consumer’s minds turned toward more sustainable food sources – aka home gardening and canning. With more home owners spending their days at their homesteads working online rather than the workplace, home gardening took off more than it has in years. Gardens full of summer produce led to a huge surge in food preservation needs, one that was not anticipated by the canning jar market. They were left searching for alternative jars for fall bottling. So, if you notice their Raw Honey jars changing to non-mason jars, you’ll know it is out of necessity to continue to deliver the quality Raw Honey customers know and love. As the honey business has grown Ashley has also created a natural soap and skincare line, utilizing their honey and beeswax. She is passionate about creating products that are good for the skin and don’t contain harmful chemicals found in so many products on the market today. 

What will the future bring for However Wild Honey? First and foremost, to maintain their mission of providing a sustainable, local Raw Honey source while exemplifying responsible pollinator management and to provide a local bee and beekeeping equipment source. With the health and well-being of honey-bees being critical to our world they see no end in sight for this rewarding work. They also have dreams of their two young sons taking over the business many years from now. For the time being they are content with working closely with co-ops and local farms to continue their evolution in bee keeping. 

Try However Wild Honey in Bulk by bringing in your own clear container and letting us fill it for you! If you purchase through curbside, add However Wild Honey to your order today!

by Jon Megas-Russell and Ashley Howe