A Sweet Season For Honey

By Betty Hallock (LA Times August 4, 2012)
Urban beekeepers around L.A. are finding a bountiful harvest this year. That makes their customers happier if not fully sated.

Roxana Jullapat, the pastry chef at Cooks County restaurant in West Hollywood, drizzles a spoonful of amber honey over a piece of honey-fig-walnut cake with roasted figs and burnt-honey ice cream. The honey she uses for the dessert, according to her menu, is Silver Lake honey, which, she says, often prompts the question from customers: "Are the bees hipsters who hang out at Intelligentsia drinking coffee and wearing skinny jeans?"

Actually, they're honey bees who reside on an east Silver Lake hill in the backyard of Amy Seidenwurm and Russell Bates, drinking the nectar of the flowers of lavender, California buckwheat, sage, jasmine and eucalyptus, fig and citrus trees. (A nod to hipsterdom: Their wooden stacked-box hives are decorated with the names of bands such as Hüsker Dü, the Jam and Idaho.)

This season the couple's bees — about 120,000 of them in three hives — have produced more than 60 pounds of honey, twice as much honey as in past years. "We've never had this much of it," says Seidenwurm, whose honey and honeycomb go to Bar Covell wine bar in Los Feliz for its charcuterie plates and Village Bakery in Atwater, where it garnishes fruit crostatas and is sold in jars under the label Feral Honey & Bee. Cooks County puts the honeycomb on its cheese plates, and Jullapat pours honey on her melon sorbets or chocolate-filled beignets. "I love the combination of chocolate and honey," she says.

Other urban beekeepers have been flush with honey too...