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Feature Stories

Honey Pacifica: Honey Haven in Our Backyard

From Issue: Volume XXII - Number 11
5/30/2014


By Gary Mraz


You haven’t lived until you’ve tasted Avocado, Eucalyptus, Sage or Creamy Wildflower honey. You probably didn’t know they existed, right here in your back yard.

Both beekeepers and packers Honey Pacifica has been supplying gourmet honeys to restaurants and specialty stores for 35 years. Hidden on Pepperwood Avenue in Lakewood Village, Honey Pacifica packages and ships to hundreds of locations nationally.

This family run business was started by Nick and Jean Poto in the mid 70s. Their sons John and Frank got involved early on. “Really, it was my brother Frank that started the bees buzzing. He walked in one day with a massive beehive and said – Dad this is my new business!” John reminisced.

Frank was in high school at the time and the buzz wore off pretty quick but their father Nick took a real liking to the honey bees. Jean was giving away the honey to neighbors until one day she had a little garage sale and sold 35 jars instantly. It grew and grew until they had 42 hives in their back yard.

Honey Pacifica kept flourishing and a decision had to be made. Son John had graduated with a law degree and worked in corporate law, Frank was an accountant and father Nick worked in aerospace. In a single day Nick and John quit their jobs and followed the love of honey. Frank is their accountant.

They specialize in unprocessed single floral source honeys which create the most distinctive tasting honey possible. Single flower honeys differ from wildflower honeys by the predominance of nectar collected from a single type of plant. By moving the hives to the middle of an orange grove just as the fragrant blossoms are opening ensures the bees will produce an exceptional orange blossom honey with distinctive taste and color.

They move the hives several times a year to catch the pea flowering of different plants and trees that comprise their unique honey collection. Nick became known as “The Midnight beekeeper” because so much work was tended to at night. “We have happy bees, healthy hives and very, very good honey.” The Midnight Beekeeper beamed.

Honeys like their Avocado honey with a rich caramelized molasses flavor and flowery aftertaste. Their Sage honey is a light delicate honey produced from black sage that blooms early spring on the slopes of California Mountains. The list goes on, Buckwheat honey, Eucalyptus, Mango and even Habanero honeys. That’s only the beginning, with an assortment of Fermented honey, Raw Chunky honey, royal jelly, Cold packed honey costal bee pollen and honeycombs Honey Pacifica is a veritable cornucopia of honey heaven.

Today they have 700-800 hives. Honey Pacific’s bees live in the fields, farms and foothills of Southern California. Not only do their bees get over 300 days of sunshine, but there are ample flowers, trees and crops in the area that provide the nectar for the best tasting raw honey. All bees are dependent on weather patterns that generate the ideal conditions for creating honey. In fact, many single floral source honeys have both lean and fat years because the weather changes each year.

Since we live in a relatively dry climate, rain is the most crucial factor for the bees. That’s where partnerships with farmers help the bees by providing open space, crops and water. In exchange, the bees fly from flower to flower collecting nectar for honey and providing pollination to crops that triggers the production of fruits and vegetables.

Farmers and beekeepers have worked together for hundreds of years and Honey Pacifica has developed partnerships in order to provide homes for their bees. The Seal Beach Naval Weapons base has 1300 acres farmland, which is rentable by farmers for growing crops. This land is leased with an emphasis on organic farming and eliminating the use and storage of pesticides. Some of the crops grown are strawberries, cabbage and pumpkins.

You can purchase Honey Pacifica at Whole Foods, Gelsons and other well known health food retailers. Or, you can order online and if you pick it up at the warehouse right here, they sweeten the deal with a nice discount. Better yet, customers can come and actually sample each and every honey. That alone is an amazing experience. I stumbled into their hidden location while strolling the backstreets of Lakewood Village.

I am a tea drinker, honey is my sweetener, and I had to know more. Introducing myself John gave me the penny tour and then off to the tasting room. This is the best kept honey secret in Los Angeles and I can tell you from experience that my hibiscus tea sweetened with Honey Pacifica eucalyptus honey is magical. Treat yourself, buy local and check Honey Pacifica out online or stop by, you will bee glad you did.

Honey Pacifica
4208 Pepperwood Ave.
Long Beach, California, 90808.
(562) 938-9706
Hours: Mon. - Fri., 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
www.honeypacifica.com/
gary@longbeachcomber.com