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A Chat with Aquidneck 'Bee Man' Jeff Mello

Beekeeper Jeff Mello brings his local honey to farmers markets across the state.

Every backyard gardener knows the vast difference between a freshly picked tomato and what's available in the supermarket. I recently learned that the difference in honey can be just as dramatic.

Two weeks ago, we bought a jar of Aquidneck Honey at the "White Church" farmers' market in Barrington, which is open on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon. This is wonderful stuff. It smells like a bouquet of wildflowers, and the flavor is so vivid that you can almost taste the individual flowers.

I admire people who are passionate about what they do so, even before I knew how good the honey was, I enjoyed chatting with "bee man" Jeff Mello.

"My hands are in this honey every step of the way," he said. 

At the time, we didn't go into detail, but his website and blog hum with enthusiasm, whether he's coralling wild bees or educating people about honey.

Mello builds his own hives -- over 800 of them -- located all over Rhode Island. Aquidneck Honey is based in Middletown.

"Every wildflower in Rhode Island goes into this honey," he said.

To allergy sufferers, this is good news. Since this honey is unfiltered and unheated, it still contains pollen. A spoonful or two a day may help build up an immunity and relieve seasonal allergies.

Other health benefits of honey are listed on the website, but Mello seems equally concerned about the well-being of his bees. Unlike many beekeepers, he does not move the hives around so that the bees can pollinate one crop after another.

"That's not good for the bees," he said.

Mello sells honey through several small local grocery stores as well as farmers' markets. You can get Aquidneck Honey in a jar, a hunk of honeycomb, or in plastic sipping tubes.  Local mazurs — people who make mead, a honey-based wine that's arguably the earliest alcoholic beverage — buy his honey in five-gallon buckets. 

"The important thing about honey," Mello said, "is to know your beekeeper." 

When you think about it, there's good advice for anything we eat. Eating locally might not always be practical or even possible, but Aquidneck Honey is a very good start.

Robert E February 29, 2012 at 09:04 PM
I have been making mead for years and have never herd of the term mazurs the only definition I could find of this word is: "Mazurs the self-designation of the people inhabiting northeastern Poland; in the past the Mazurs constituted an ethnic subgroup of the Polish nation. They are mainly Protestants and have preserved certain dialect features in their speech, as well as a distinctive folk dress, dwelling, and folk art, notably, wood carving." It has nothing to do with mead. I had called to find out about the bulk honey but found their price to be cost prohibitive.
The Shill February 29, 2012 at 09:09 PM
A person who makes mead is called a meadmaker. A mazer is just a traditional mead drinking vessel not someone who makes mead.
Aquidneckhoney March 01, 2012 at 01:03 PM
I have no idea who this is, but, there are no clothes lines in my neighborhood, and, the statements you have made are outlandish and untrue to say the least. You should expect 100% accountability for what you have written...legally.

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