From bee to mead showcased at The Hive in Woodland

Photograph by Art Rachen

New experiential honey center opens this weekend

This roadside attraction is sure to get people buzzing.

Featuring the first varietal honey-and-mead-tasting room of its kind, The Hive will celebrate its grand opening Nov. 13 and 14 in Woodland.

Located just off Interstate 5 at Harter Avenue, The Hive offers a one-stop honey immersive experience. The new home of Z Specialty Food, The Hive combines honey making, packaging and appreciation all in one site –much like Northern California wineries showcase wine.

“We want to educate people about honey tasting,” explains Joshua Zeldner, Nectar Director at Z Specialty Food. “It’s very similar to wine tasting.”

Z Specialty and its sister brands Moon Shine Trading Company and Island of the Moon Honey offer more than 30 varietal honeys plus fruit-honey spreads and other honey-based treats. All of those will be processed and packaged at the new location.

“It’s hard to believe we are finally here, a true dream come true for our family business,”  Zeldner says. “I am so excited to invite people to experience what we have created — the full circle of plants, bees, honey and mead.”

In the honey business for more than four decades, Z Specialty Food had been planning The Hive for four years. The project cost about $5 million.

The family business had operated for many years just down the road from its new three-acre location.

“It was a grass field I had driven by so many times,” Zeldner said. “It was not for sale. It took months to find the owner (and negotiate a deal).”

The Hive combines the honey business with honey appreciation. Filled with bee-friendly perennials and shrubs, a newly planted pollinator garden encircles the building’s entrance. That flows into an outdoor events area.

The tasting room will offer varietal honey samples as well as tastes of the company’s fruit and nut spreads. In addition to honey, The Hive will also specialize in mead tasting. Mead is honey-based wine.

“There are all types of mead to appeal to all types of tastes,” explains Zeldner. “The educational component of what we’re doing is what I’m excited about. We’ll be serving meads from throughout the country – California, Michigan, New Hampshire.  The idea is to have a rotating selection.”

The tasting room is decorated with hives and beekeeping equipment that belonged to the company’s founder, Ishai Zeldner, who died in 2018 at age 71.

“They’re not any old hives,” said Zeldner. “They’re my dad’s equipment.

Shoshana Zeldner, Joshua’s sister, and mom Amina Harris also are integral parts of the business.

Harris, Z Specialty’s Queen Bee, has long been a proponent of varietal honeys.

“I am passionate about introducing people to taking the time to taste honey properly, noticing every unique color, flavor, aroma and texture that comes through,” she says.

The tastes can be surprising.

“Most of our honeys are collected locally,” says Joshua Zeldner. “We also offer unique international honeys. We have two from Mexico – coffee blossom and mango – and their taste is mind blowing.”

Mango honey? Imagine liquid smoke mixed with barbecue and marmalade. Better yet, ask for a taste.

Open free to the public, The Hive’s Grand Opening will be  held from 1 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 13, and 11 a.m to 4 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 14. The Hive is located at 1221 Harter Ave., Woodland.

Festivities include live music, games, craft and food vendors, yoga and movement classes, a mobile plant nursery, food trucks, big discounts on Z Specialty products and lots of honey.

Guests are asked to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or recent negative COVID test.

Before and after the grand opening, The Hive’s tasting room is open from 11 a.m to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.


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