Hermann has kept hives on the roof of The Porch for several years now. “I have gained a new-found respect for raw, unfiltered honey. As a chef, I’ve always loved honey, but actually getting to see the process happening, it’s been amazing.”
Since it’s so readily available, Hermann has had the opportunity to experiment with fresh honey on the menu. “It’s like jet fuel for my brain in the culinary world.” Diners can expect honey infused bread and pizza dough, truffle honey and cheese plates adorned with fresh honeycomb.
“It’s been a good experience teaching my culinary and my front of house team about what raw honey is, and what you can do with the honeycomb.” When Hermann harvests the combs, he brings them down to The Porch’s dining room to host live tastings.
While educating others is an important aspect of keeping hives, Repasky admits he still has a lot to learn. “It seems like every time I’ve got a grasp on beekeeping something happens and I have more questions and continue to be fascinated.”
“[Beekeeping is] closer to a fish tank. All you get to do is watch them and feed them. You have to enjoy the biology of it,” explains Jana Thompson, an eight-year veteran beekeeper on the Northside. The bees operate as a super organism, or a single unit, making them an interesting subject to observe.
Thompson started keeping bees after reading about them and studying them for over a year. While the harvest is rewarding, the process of keeping the bees is just as valuable to her.
“This is something where I know I am doing good. I am making the world a better place in a way that is very different from all the other things I do.”
While it might not be for everybody, anyone can contribute to making urban beekeeping a success. “It’s all voting with your food dollars,” explains Thompson. “Support local, organic growers. All of that is supporting urban beekeeping.” You can find urban honey at farmers’ markets or local grocery stores.
You can also get involved by attending Burgh Bees’ Open Apiary on Saturday, June 27.
All photos by Brian Cohen.