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Makers

Sag Harbor Honey

Sag Harbor Honey

Meet Sofia and John Witzenbocker, the husband-wife team behind Sag Harbor Honey. "We put honey on everything. If a recipe calls for sugar I substitute it with honey. I don't think we even have sugar in the house," says Sofia. "For example, we're potty training our son right now and his reward is a spoonful of honey (haha)."
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Over 6 years ago there wasn't a Sag Harbor Honey - just some poorly sprouted fruit trees at John's parents house in Sag Harbor. In searching for a fix they spoke with an elderly beekeeper (a family friend) as he comically ate a huge jar of honey 'Winnie the Pooh style.' "Within 20 minutes we were like "Oh my god, we need bees!" and also "Oh my god we want our own honey to eat like that!!!"
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While the decision might have seemed spontaneous, their love for bees and nature had been cultivated for years. John was an environmental science major in college and an overall nature buff, while Sofia was raised in an alternative medicine household. "I grew up thinking of honey as this magical substance that cured everything," says Sofia. "My grandmother ate a little bit of honey and propolis every morning - she lived to 93 and in the 20 years that she lived with us she never once had a cold. Even when we would get cuts or a pimple she'd put honey on it."
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What started with one hive soon blossomed into a passionate addiction. Now Sofia and John manage 50 hives with hopes to expand to 75 this year... John and Sofia also have full-time jobs! Sofia works for a medical device company and John is in finance. "We do this on our downtime," laughs Sofia. During the Spring and Summer they'll devote 20 hours to the practice... or basically their entire weekend. Although for them it's no chore to wake up at the crack of dawn on their "off-days." "I get to spend a lot of quality time with my husband," says Sofia. "We both have this huge interest that we share and we'll troubleshoot together in the hive. So even though it demands a lot of our personal time we still sit back and we're like "we had a good day together.'"
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Just one taste of Sag Harbor Honey and you'll get a sense for the passion which produced it. Their honey is never heated; pollen and propolis is allowed to filter through. Fruit trees and flowers are also planted for every season to give the bees a healthy variety to feed on. "You'll see with our summer honey that it is a lighter color with a fruitier and very light taste. While our Fall honey is typically darker with more of an amber brown color with a little richer taste."
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So do they get stung all the time? "To be honest in the six years I've been beekeeping I've probably been stung maybe a handful of times. You know that saying 'busy as a bee?'  They are so busy that unless they are extremely annoyed by you or feel threatened, they won't sting you. My husband, on the other hand, has been stung so much that he is immune (haha). But that's because he does a lot of things he shouldn't, like breathe on a bee to warm it up and resuscitate it." 
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"The more that we have gotten into beekeeping the more we have realized why this is so important - the difference in production from our fruit trees is incredible - and what we're doing is great for Long Island, it's great for the world and we encourage people to beekeep as well. So our hope is to one day bee :) full time beekeepers. How great would it be to go to work everyday doing something you love and know is great for the community?"