Experiencing truly raw honey has traditionally been the privilege of those with a connection to a beekeeper. But thanks to the folks at Salt Lake City's The Honey Stop, local honey is now available to the general public. "The honey we offer is as close as it gets to honey from your own backyard without having to be a beekeeper," owner Peter Somers says.
He believes there is a clear difference when honey is sourced from residential urban gardens and totally unprocessed. Somers opened his store in December 2012 and recently moved to his new space near Liberty Park in January of this year.
"I needed a whole new career," Somers says of his decision to start his own business. He cashed out his 401K and went all-in on a small honey shop. "I'd been to a few such stores in other cities and it seemed a good fit for Utah."
His shop offers "varietal" honeys, or honeys whose color, flavor and even aroma vary depending on the particular plants the bees were pollinating. Radish, carrot and cotton honeys have unique flavors. "Radish honey tastes like candy corn," Somers says.
While it wasn't his dream initially to be a beekeeper, Somers eventually became enthralled with the process. "A customer asked me to partner up on some hives and wouldn't take 'no' for an answer," he says. He expanded the operation from simply selling honey and honey products to offering beekeeping equipment. So if you want to get into beekeeping yourself, The Honey Stop offers supplies, service and support.
"We offer complimentary on-site assistance to beginner beekeepers that are installing their bees for the first time," the shop owner says. "And we remain available all year to help guide them through their first season."
Shane Somers, Peter's brother, is the shop's only other employee. A skilled woodworker and knowledgeable beekeeper, Shane Somers is fascinated by bees and motivated to help them thrive. "I couldn't do it without him," Peter Somers says of his brother. The Honey Stop also has a woodworking shop on site to build hives and do honey extractions.
"We're not fancy," Somers says. "We're glad you're in the store, and want you to feel comfortable and leave satisfied. Without our customers, we have nothing. So it's all about supplying the demand for real honey and ensuring the success of backyard beekeepers."
For seasoned beekeepers, the shop fills custom orders for hives and equipment and offers all levels of support—from hive relocation to full service apiary management. The Honey Stop manufacturers beehives, offers classes and instruction as well as honey extraction services, and provides on-site hive assistance and colony health assessments. "A customer of The Honey Stop has a partner in beekeeping," Somers says. "Our priority is to help them succeed."