Thursday, July 31, 2008

Oh, honey

About 60 miles south of Albuquerque on I-25 is Lemitar, NM, a Phillips 66 station on the west edge of a tiny village that I guess I’ve driven past dozens of times without really noticing until the other day. What caught my eye was the bright yellow van parked in front of a small cluttered farm a bit north of the actual town. In bold black lettering the van proclaims that HONEY is available. Driving another mile or two to the Lemitar exit I leave the interstate at the Phillips 66, turning north on the frontage road (ok, if you’re driving on an interstate and can't determine your direction of travel, please step out of the gene pool at the earliest opportunity, thank you). The frontage road is only 60 yards from the interstate while being at least that many years in the past. While the interstate cuts straight through even the slightest rise with nary but the most sweeping curve, the frontage road lays on the very nap of the land, a series of what would, on a dirt bike trail be whoopdidoos, and sharp turns, an inviting playground for a middle-aged kid in a fast car; the speed limit on the frontage road is 30 mph but believe me, it’s much more fun at 60.
The farm consists of an unfinished two storey house with an impressive iron gate, and is surrounded by old trucks and mobile homes and overrun with half-feral chickens. Enter the gate, do not make eye contact with the little rooster with the giant ego, and ring the door buzzer. Before long you will be ushered into the Bee Chama store by Glen, the guy who holds down the fort while the rest of what appears to be an apiest commune traverses the state (and country) with their truck loads of bees, doing commercial pollinating as well as just parking and letting their bees sample native flowers in remote areas. The results are outstanding, with varietal honeys such as desert wildflower, mesquite and mountain wildflower. Their commercial work in the almond groves of California allows Bee Chama to trade with other beekeepers for varieties such as wild blackberry and meadow foam, as well as new stock to keep their bees genetically diverse and resistant to parasites and (so far) colony collapse disorder. The meadow foam is the sweetest honey I’ve ever tasted, with hints of vanilla lending it the unmistakable flavor of a marshmallow.
One thing has to be said about the Bee Chama crew, they do not fit your likely preconception of what a beekeeper looks like, a soft-spoken, slow-moving old man with kind eyes. This bunch looks more like a professional mountain bike racing team, all tats, facial hair and a passionate excitement for what they do.
After tasting several varieties with Glen, who snatches up any spilled drop with his finger, I settle on a quart of the desert wildflower for fifteen bucks. It is a strongly flavored dark honey that Glen tells me reminds older customers of the honey they used to get wild. Which reminds me, all of the Bee Chama honeys are wild, unpasteurized and unfiltered, the proof is in opening the lids with specks of honey comb, pollen and possibly a bee’s leg (it’s protein, shaddup) apparent.
Bee Chama honey is available at Albuquerque area farmers’ markets or online at beechamahoney.com.

11 comments:

eleKtrofly said...

"half-feral chickens?" nice!

i wrote a short story about ruidoso.

let me know what you think, if you get a chance!
peace

Maria said...

God, I miss honey. (I'm diabetic.) I do buy it raw and give it to my daughter on toast in the mornings...

Just the smell of it is intoxicating...

-Sarah- said...

That's a "honey" of a tail, hardy-har-har!

I'd like some delectamable honey on an english muffin, please.

Jade said...

*steps quietly out of the gene pool*

Eric said...

Ahhhh, Jade, c'mon back in.

-Sarah- said...

Ahhhh, beautifully said (re: your comment to my most recent blog)!! My family makes a chocolate pie at holidays as well. I'm not sure I would call it a "chocolate creme" pie. It's really just a pudding mix in a prefab pie shell. Throw in some extra goodies (like cream cheese and whipping creme) and you've got a Hadley family tradition. My oldest brother and I can take care of a whole pie by ourselves, we'll usually make a back up for anyone else who'd like to partake, but we clean out that pie dish in record time.
My grandpa died a few years ago. We went through the same event of cleaning out the house... all 50 years of it. Among other things (like microwaves and chainsaws, ha!) I made off with Granny's cookbooks. I haven't dove very deep into them, but I love having them. My brother's wife has always said cooking is a science, and I am no scientist. I have managed to defeat a few small things such as candies and misc. "goodies"
I made the Homer Simpson drooling noise when I read about your custard pies. The older recipes DO call for an obscene amount of eggs. My mom has a poundcake recipe that calls for atleast 8 (if memory serves).
With your permission I'd like to publish your comment as a follow-up to my blog! Let me know what you think.

-Sarah- said...

touche. Again my point is made that I'm such rookie I failed to differentiate between cooking and baking. I can manage my way through cooking, but I fear I've only gotten this far in baking due to the fact that I'm good at following directions (recipes)

And no, it's not a Campbell's soup mug, even thought that would be really cool. It says "drink your coffee, there's people sleeping in India" It was an item I took from the grandparent's house clean-out. I love it, but it's shamefully tiny so I rarely use it.

honeysweetie said...

the realy strange thing about bee chama honey is that those lairs don't produce any honey. They just buy honey on the open market and re-sell it as local honey.

Woody said...

Dear Honey Sweetie,
Before making claims against local beekeepers you should come and check out the operations yourself. We keep an average of 300 hives of bees in NM and all extracting and bottling is done on our farm. We do also trade honey with beekeepers throughout the West in order to offer varieties to our customers. All the honeys are labeled as such and all the honeys are 100% RAW. NOT SURE WHY YOU THINK YOU'RE SO SWEET HONEY...HAVE A NICE DAY.
Bee Chama Honey Crew

emily said...

I love bee chama honey! Bee Chama Honey is the best honey in the world. If you haven't tried bee chama honey then you should visit the website to read more about the amazing raw honeys that bee chama honey produces. www.beechamahoney.com

Terroni said...

I'm going to order some when the cheap store bought crap in my cupboard runs out.