Chico Honey Company, Ryan Olivarez
● By Enjoy Magazine
What's in StoreJuly 2015
Photo by Betsy Walton
ENJOY: How did you get into the honey business?
RYAN: My brother Josh, sister Haley and I are thirdgeneration beekeepers. My grandpa started beekeeping and learned from another beekeeping family, who had been beekeeping for over 100 years. My brother just graduated from the University of San Francisco with a master’s degree in business, and Haley is attending Chico State University next semester. I’ve been full-time beekeeping for three years.
ENJOY: Why do your honeys have varying tastes?
RYAN: Honey is compared a lot to wine. If you have your bees next to a large field of alfalfa, the honey is going to be drastically different than if you have your bees next to a large orange grove. You can taste the undertones of what flower they’ve been near. Almond blooms are beautiful, but they don’t necessarily make good honey. Other things like alfalfa or clover are really light and sweet. Half of our bees go out of state and we make sweet clover honey, which is a light, sweet, delicious honey. The other half stay local and we get our wildflower honey. Other companies will get a lot of honey from different sources, warm them up and blend them together, but we don’t blend our honeys.
ENJOY: What is your most unique honey?
RYAN: Hawaiian. My parents have a business called Olivarez Honeybees, and we raise queens in Hawaii. There aren’t a lot of beekeepers in Hawaii and we just happen to be one of them. Our bees are on the Kona side of the big island, and they’re mixed in with the coffee trees. The honey is kind of dark and has a coffee hint to it.
ENJOY: What are some of the benefits of honey?
RYAN: It’s really popular with people with allergies. Probably 80 percent of our sales come from people who have allergies. Pure and raw honey, which we produce, also has lots of vitamins, nutrients and natural enzymes
ENJOY: What makes you proud of your product?
RYAN: We have our own bees, and the majority of our honey comes from our own hives that we work. Beekeeping is a lot of hard, physical work, and to have something so delicious and sweet and healthy come out of it is pretty rewarding.
ENJOY: What can the average honey lover do to help protect the bee population?
RYAN: You can let weeds and natural flowers grow. In California, it’s the biggest hurdle for the bees. We send half our bees to Montana for the summer because there’s not enough natural forage for them to survive. Everything is sprayed and everything is cut. Star thistle used to be a really popular honey, and when I was younger, I remember working the bees in the foothills with the star thistle. Now there’s hardly any star thistle anymore. Letting the weeds at least bloom and letting a few bees come and collect the pollen is really helpful. Wait a little bit longer before you mow your orchards.
ENJOY: Where are your products available?
RYAN: Enjoy the Store, Great Harvest (all three Chico locations), Made in Chico, Little Red Hen stores, Project K, The Galley, Oven Marketplace and Café, Coffee House and Eatery in Orland and Patrick Branch Museum toward Durham.
1475 Placer Street, Suite D, Redding
Monday - Friday 10am – 6 pm
Saturday 10am – 5 pm
(530) 246-4687, x4
615 Main Street, Red Bluff
Monday - Saturday - 10am – 7 pm
Sunday 10am – 5 pm
(530) 727. 9016
730 6th St., Orland • (530) 966-5864