Honey Truck Co. • Danielle Brooks
What's clear off the jump about Danielle, founder of Honey Truck Co., is that she is one helluva brave + adventurous woman. It takes a certain type to drive cross-state with your trunk full of bees, and jump head-first into the life of a beekeeper!
A year in, she's built an innovative mobile business that's a breath of fresh air in an otherwise outdated, entrenched industry. If you ever find yourself in Saint Augustine, keep an eye out for her cherry-red Ford Econoline. Danielle was sweet enough to send me her Datil Pepper + Lavender Honey (along with some of her soon-to-be-released lollipops!). Long story short, I'm hooked. Honey, as a rule, is delicious - but you haven't lived until you've tasted this hyperlocal honey!
What’s the story behind where you are today?
I love drinking tea, especially with honey. One day I had the thought of how awesome it would be to have my own hive to harvest from. I checked out every book I could from the library about bees and keeping them. Once we got our ducks in a row, I got on a list to get a beehive, and we waited…. In April of 2016 I got my first beehive. I drove up to Jacksonville and they just put the beehive in my trunk and I drove home with them. I had no experience, and jumped in head first.
Later that year when I was in North Carolina I found this small local store selling honey and hive products. I remember thinking how awesome it would be to have something like that in St. Augustine would be. A lot of the honey you get in St. Augustine, isn't hyper-local - it comes from places 30+ miles away.
I wanted the people of St. Augustine to experience the flavor of the local flora. Our hives are located in specific communities within St. Augustine. It truly is hyper-local. Then the idea of having a truck came about. By having a mobile business I can sell honey when it is in season, and have an “off season” when the honey runs out.
What’s your Why?
The average age of a beekeeper is 57. I just turned 30. I love being a young beekeeper because I get to be in the forefront on implementing change. The social, economic, and environmental landscape is rapidly changing and beekeepers are facing more challenges that ever. There’s a need for a new generation of beekeepers. Younger beekeepers often have an innovative way of approaching problems as they arise. And, especially with social media, we’re able to give a voice to the voiceless bees and advocate on their behalf. I love educating others on the importance of bees and how to be good stewards of our corner of the world!
What’s on the list for today? What’s next?
Today's to do list consists of getting ready for a pop up shop tomorrow at a local farmers market. I have to make more lip balm, pack the truck, do inventory, answer emails, work on social media posts, etc. The list is always endless and always different. I love that no two days of being a beekeeper are the same.
Since I am currently still in my first year of business, I am coming into my "harvest season" aka "slinging honey as fast as I can" This means I will be focused on harvesting honey, pop-ups, and saving money. I hope to make the jump into a commercial space.
Right now I am partnered with a local bakery using their kitchen at night, which is great, but I need my own space in order to grow. Ultimately, years down the road, I hope to franchise. The Honey Truck Company is an easily duplicatable model. It not only provides pollinators for an urban setting, but it also educates people on the importance of bees and buying a truly local product.
What’s one thing that you’d like people to know?
While honey bees are often in the spotlight of pollination, native bees are just as important to our ecosystem. Honey bees were imported from Europe in the early 1500s and are not native to America. In Florida alone there are over 319 native species of pollinators. Of those species, 27 of them can only be found in Florida and no where else in the world. That's crazy! We should work hard to protect those little critters. So while the honey bee is at the forefront of my business, I also give voice to the native pollinators as well.
Want to learn more about bees + keeping them?
Here are some of the must-reads before getting your own hive!
Click to open in iBooks!