I first experienced TruBee Honey earlier this summer at the Porter Flea Market in East Nashville. “Queen Bee” Laura Kimball (above) was giving out samples of different vintages of honey – produced locally in beautiful Arrington, Tenn. – and it was love at first taste. As I tried to decide which sweet flavors to take home with me, I recognized Laura’s small canvas Carry-On bags, which she had stenciled with her logo, and asked, “Did you get these bags from Nashville Wraps?” It turns out she has been a loyal Wraps customer from the start; and although summer is a very busy season for beekeepers, Laura was kind enough to answer a few questions for our blog.
It seems that TruBee Honey unofficially started when Laura bought her husband Jeff a beehive for Christmas 10 years ago. After selling their honey at farmers markets, where it was warmly received, they took the leap to begin selling honey full time. One taste will tell you why their honey has been such a success. TruBee’s raw, unpasteurized honey is made by happy bees who aren’t confined to a single-source diet. Allowed to roam freely in places where they can forage different plants each season, they produce honey which “captures the taste of nature in a particular place and time.” It’s healthier for the bees to have a varied diet, and each vintage has a unique taste.
The name of the business is designed to reflect a commitment to authenticity: “Our honey is raw and unpasteurized and it is never blended with anything. The dilution of honey and the import of foreign, unsafe honey are practices that have become more and more common in US markets, unfortunately,” Laura says. Available in a few shops around Nashville (The Produce Place on Murphy Road, both Turnip Truck locations, The Green Door Gourmet and The Green Wagon in East Nashville, to name a few), TruBee Honey can also be purchased from their website.
Laura says that instead of doing conventional advertising, they go to a couple of gourmet food trade shows every year, and this has provided some wonderful PR opportunities (such as recent features in Country Living and InStyle magazines). She has concentrated social media efforts on Twitter, linking the Facebook account to it for automatic updates, “so we can have a presence on Facebook without letting it take over our lives!” Another successful aspect of their online presence is Jeff’s beautiful photography – his trade before full-time beekeeping.
Laura is a big fan of Nashville Wraps’ GreenWay® line of eco-friendly packaging, and said choosing packaging that was sustainable, eco-conscious and local was important to her. “Our trade (beekeeping) relies on a healthy environment, so anything we can do to support sustainable resources and reduce our environmental footprint is a small step in protecting our business (or maybe our daughter’s business) in the long run.” Laura says that TruBee reuses packing materials whenever possible, particularly when shipping wholesale orders. In addition to the cute cloth bags, which have been a big hit with customers, TruBee uses our recycled Kraft tissue for wrapping glass jars during shipment and our recycled shreds.
I asked Laura for one piece of advice for other small businesses. “If you never take the leap, you’ll never know what could have been. Our business could fail tomorrow if all our bees became sick or if something happened to me or Jeff, but one thing we’ll never have to consider or regret is ‘what if.'”
Laura and Jeff are on a first-name basis with their queen bees; this beauty is named Latifah.