Family Finds Health Benefits and Community Through Beekeeping Business

Community and opportunity are key for any business’s success — but for many minority groups, getting the support they need can be an uphill battle. This is especially true for BIPOC business owners, as they must tackle every obstacle inherent to running a business, while working within a system that privileges their competitors. With that in mind, GreaterGood has had the pleasure of partnering with a variety of companies whose owners come from all walks of life. One business we love, and know you’ll love too, is Zach & Zoë Sweet Bee Farm.

Photo: Instagram/zachandzoehoney

Owners Kam and Summer Johnson started their company, named after their only two children at the time, as part of their journey to address their son’s allergy and asthma symptoms. When the Johnson family moved to Hunterdon County from Montclair about five years ago, youngest-at-the-time Zach began suffering from severe seasonal allergies. The Johnson’s are cautious around using strong medications on their children, and wanted to exhaust all possible natural remedies first. Searching for ways to alleviate some of her son’s symptoms, Summer began to learn about the many benefits of local, raw honey.

Photo: Instagram/zachandzoehoney

The typical honey we see at the grocery store is, as the Johnsons put it, “nutritionally dead.” Through filtration and pasteurization, the honey is stripped of all the vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and amino acids that are naturally found in its raw form. By working with their own bees and providing them a safe place to build their colonies, the Johnsons are able to not only harvest delicious raw honey, but work in harmony with these incredible and essential pollinators.

Photo: Adobe Stock/Martin

Pollinating insects are responsible for 90% of all flowering plants and more than a third of all crop production in the United States. Without the help of honey bees and other pollinators, we would be facing a devastating food shortage and skyrocketing costs of staples like produce. Unfortunately, the bee population is seeing a severe decline, with honey bee hives falling from 6 million in the 1940s to about 2.5 million in 2021. In 2018 alone, the U.S. lost 40.7 percent of its honeybee colonies. With threats coming from pesticides, pathogens, pests, and stress, GreaterGood teamed up with the Borderlands Restoration Network to find a way to help our pollinator friends.

Thanks to your generous donations on GreaterGood’s Plant Flowers to Save Bees & Other Natural Wildlife Benefit Buy, in February of 2021, BRN and GreaterGood planted two acres’ worth of flower seeds to help feed native pollinators. Donations to this cause have already covered the cost of planting more than 1.2 million square feet of seeds in areas with struggling bee populations.

Photo: Borderlands Restoration Network

Our efforts alone won’t be enough to help the honey bees. We still need attentive, knowledgeable beekeepers to care for our bees properly, all while extracting delicious honey. That’s where Kam and Summer come in.

Summer found some possible relief for her son when she learned of the potential benefits of immunotherapy. By exposing Zach to the small amounts of pollen found in local raw honey, he would hopefully become less impacted by seasonal allergies over time.

Photo: Instagram/zachandzoehoney

They decided to try giving Zach small amounts of raw honey to eat, and quickly noticed an immense improvement in his allergy symptoms. The Johnson family became frequent customers of the local beekeepers and soon became interested in the trade. After months of consideration, and some encouragement from friends, they dove headfirst into the world of beekeeping. With no pesticides or additives, Zach & Zoë Sweet Bee Farm is able to offer “pure, raw honey from bees that we value, nurture, and love.”

“One of the things we love about honey is that regardless of your race, your culture, your background – everyone has this affinity to honey,” Kam explained in an Eater video featuring his farm. “It’s absolutely a universal food.” Kam and Summer have grown even closer with the local beekeeping community, learning from seasoned farmers and helping others sell direct to consumers as they do. “Beekeepers are a really cool community,” Kam continued. “It’s very trust-based, very honor-based.”

Kam and Summer sell their honey wholesale to local restaurants, and have a shop at Chelsea Market in New York City where they sell to the general public during the summer. Luckily, for those of us not in New York, Zach & Zoë Sweet Bee Farm honey is available now in the GreaterGood store! A one-time purchase feeds 71 shelter animals, and you’ll be a part of supporting a family-owned, BIPOC business right here in the U.S.A.

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