Thanks to his botanist grandmother, Henry Storch could recite the Latin names of all the plants in his parent’s garden by the age of 5, and this early enthusiasm for flora and fauna continues to inform his work today as an uncommonly thoughtful apiarist. After teenage stints working in nurseries and on organic farms, Henry studied agriculture at OSU, learned to shoe horses (!) and eventually settled in the eastern foothills of the Coast Range, living in a hand-built cabin and working at sawmills in the winter when his farrier business slowed down. Encountering wild bee populations during his work in the timber industry was his lightbulb moment; he clearly saw that these bees were vastly different from the commercial populations he’d seen farmers using to pollinate crops, and that they’d developed resistance to mites and adapted to the cool, wet conditions of Oregon’s coastal forests.
He dove in with gusto, teaching himself queen rearing and different hive-splitting techniques until he’d built up several hundred hives. He reached out to some classmates from OSU and began a commercial pollination operation on small Willamette Valley farms before venturing further afield to pollinate almond groves in California. His grandmother’s early lessons on plant phenology (basically, what factors contribute to when, where, and how plants grow as related to climate, elevation, and surrounding environments) came in to play, and Henry started strategically placing his hives throughout the coast range to, for example, take advantage of extended nectar flows in places where multiple species of non-native blackberry overlap.
These days, Henry’s Oso Honey Farm provides climate-adapted pollination services from Oregon to California, and produces a wide range of unique varietal honeys based on what he calls “oddball seed crops” including radish, coriander, and parsley using hives he’s placed throughout central western Oregon. Used at some of Portland’s best restaurants and bakeries, Henry’s honey has developed a dedicated cult following for its uncommon depth and breadth of flavors, and we are thrilled to announce that we are now the exclusive distributor of Oso Honey and will be stocking the full complement of seasonal offerings here at Wellspent Market.
All photos courtesy of Oso Honey Farm