After a few minutes of browsing through Asheville Bee Charmer, you might wonder how in the world the store came to be. Who are the owners? What made them think people would be interested in so many varieties of honey? Where did they come up with ideas for other items to carry? So many questions.
Owners Jillian and Kim were regular visitors to Asheville. They loved the area, but were firmly planted in a big city. As years passed, the partners began to seriously consider whether they could make the move and build their lives in Asheville. They longed for the slower, more community-oriented lifestyle Asheville offered, but needed a plan.
Around the same time, Jillian began to make changes to the family diet, opting for organic foods and farmers markets, and switching from white refined sugar to something healthier. That’s when she discovered honey. The more she cooked with honey, the more Jillian learned about bees. She even took a beekeeping course at the Garfield Conservatory in Chicago. Her enthusiasm was contagious because before long, Kim developed a keen interest in honey, too.
By the time they were able to move to Asheville permanently, the couple had a business plan in place. They reached out to the local bee community and immediately felt right at home.
Just as Jillian and Kim want their household to consume healthy food, they want visitors to have the same opportunity. The majority of honey they sell originates from local and regional sources. They believe that it’s important to know where their product comes from. In addition, samples from each of their honey varieties are sent to Texas A&M to test for purity and pollen content.
The Honey Bar
Our group has been to wine tastings, whiskey tastings, moonshine tastings, and chocolate tastings. We had never been to a honey tasting prior to our visit to Asheville Bee Charmer. The takeaway? It was delightful.
Even if you don’t think you like honey, give yourself the chance to sample different kinds. It’s surprising how one or two added ingredients can change the entire experience.
Narrowing down our favorites was a challenge, but here they are:
Orange Blossom Honey
One of the best things about tasting honey at Asheville Bee Charmer is the way you can learn more about the process while licking delicious honey off your lips. As the name implies, Orange Blossom Honey is a result of beekeepers releasing bees to pollinate orange grove blossoms throughout orange-growing regions of the country. The honey produced is not only wonderful to the taste buds, but also contains high levels of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins to support the immune system.
As it turns out, Tupelo Honey is more than a great Van Morrison song. It is a buttery, smooth, flavorful treat for the tongue. What we found interesting was how it tasted one way as we first put it into our mouths, and another when it hit the back of our tongues. It’s lightly sweet, meaning you can use it on anything, including cornbread or biscuits. It would also be perfect in a warm cup of tea.
Ghost Pepper Honey
There’s no reason to pretend that everyone in our group enjoyed this sweet but spicy honey, but those who did really enjoyed it. The ladies create this variety by infusing their own honey with Asheville grown Ghost Peppers. If you like a kick, you’ve got to try this one.
Truth be told, Honey-Covered Pecans was neither part of the tasting experience or strictly speaking, a type of honey. Still, we had to include it because it’s darn near heavenly. If you’re a fan of pecan pie, you will adore this jar of deliciousness. We were told that you can drizzle it over chicken to add a glaze or it’s enough to dip a spoon in and come back up with a miniature dessert.
You could easily spend much of the day browsing through this store. In addition to honey, they carry their own cookbook, beeswax candles, skin care, and jewelry. The coolest thing about Asheville Bee Charmer though is that you will leave with a greater appreciation for bees and all they do for us.
Trust your GPS. Asheville Bee Charmer is unassuming from the outside and easy to pass by. If you’re not looking closely, you can miss the store entirely. Don’t worry though. The interior is adorable, totally making up for the forgettable exterior.