Brent Wesley may be relatively new to beekeeping, but that didn’t stop him and his wife, Rebecca, from turning their new hobby into a successful local business.
“I’m a guy who can’t sit still and who loves improving the spaces around us,” he says.
When he saw a vacant property for sale, he couldn’t resist. “Shucks, I didn’t even know what I was going to do with it: urban gardening, farming, community gathering,” he says. “All I knew was that it had to make our neighborhood better.”
After consulting with a local beekeeper and doing some serious research, the next thing Wesley knew he was driving home with a trunk full of about 10,000 bees inside two hives. “I asked myself why I was doing this, and how do I make them stop buzzing so loudly?”
In August 2013, the Wesleys decided to offer their honey to the public instead of keeping it all to themselves and established the Akron Honey Company. Today, Wesley runs the company while working for a tech company and performing with his band, Wesley Bright and The Hi-Lites.
“We announced our intentions on Facebook and began receiving countless messages requesting lots of honey,” he says. “Being a beekeeper throws you into the middle of the bee world and all its glory and heartbreak: the beautiful perfect nature of a colony, the pesticides, the bee population decline and then there’s Akron. You see, it’s not just about honey. Akron Honey Company is for Akron, her people and the honeybees.”
Although the couple sells their honey from their West Akron home, their beehives are located at the Crestland Park Apiary on West Exchange Street. They’re working with Let’s Grow Akron, a local beautification organization to place and manage hives at various locations around the city.
For Wesley, beekeeping is about maintaining a positive relationship with the community, as well as exercising a great amount of responsibility and animal husbandry. “As far as my honeybees are concerned, my aim is to give them an environment in which they can thrive and providing the girls [his nickname for the bees] with sufficient water and food.”
Because the bees feast on a variety of floral sources in the Akron area, Akron Honey partnered with Pollinator Stewardship Council, a national nonprofit with a mission to defend managed and native pollinators vital to sustainable and affordable food supply.
When it comes to honey, if the customer wants “something pure, raw and in its natural element, that’s our honey,” Wesley says. “If they want some honey from honeybees that are taken care of and treated with respect, that’s us. If they want it delivered like the milkman used to do, that’s us. If they want to experience ‘Akron’s Sweet Spot’, that’s Akron Honey Company.” Wesley says beeswax products are also coming soon.
“Some say it’s the best honey they’ve ever tasted,” he says. “A few tasters sincerely didn’t like honey before tasting our super local batch; they asked what we did to it. Other honey lovers asked what we put in it. When I told them that all we did was strain it twice, their jaw hit the floor in disbelief.”
While products from Akron Honey Company can currently be purchased online or in person, Wesley is considering selling honey at local farmers’ markets and possibly in Mustard Seed Market. He hopes his company will expand into a destination where customers can visit, purchase honey, extract honey, host a gathering or learn to cook with honey.
“We’re working hard to be a part of the reason people call Akron the place to be,” he says.
/ Writer Caitlyn Callahan is a senior at KSU working on her bachelor’s in magazine journalism.
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