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Product Spotlight: Urban Hive Honey

Product Spotlight: Urban Hive Honey

Urban Hive Honey is a small, Nashville-based honey brand that provides pure, raw honey to just a few small businesses here in town, and we at Bare Bones Butcher are proud to be one of them.


Beekeeper and owner, Todd Cantrell, gathers small-batch honey from his East Nashville hives and simply strains out stray matter (like wax caps or bee parts) before jarring it up and labeling it to sell. That’s it. There’s no processing or treating; no additives or unknowns. His all-natural method and bee-focused approach make for a truly superior raw honey that not only tastes better but is better for you.

Unlike commercial beekeepers, who use chemicals to keep their hives alive, feed them sugar water to keep them producing honey in the winter, and then pasteurize the final product to remove any traces of the aforementioned chemicals, Urban Hive’s product is completely natural. Not only is UH honey a seasonal product, yielding honey only when bees can naturally produce it (in the spring and summer when flowers are in bloom) but it is also chemical-free and unpasteurized, meaning it contains all of the antibacterial, antifungal and nutritional power for which honey is known.

From helping to fight allergies to aiding with digestion, and from soothing a sore throat to healing wounds, many consider a spoonful of raw honey to be a powerful natural medicine. (We’re working on getting Mary Poppins to amend her song a bit: “a spoonful of pure, unfiltered, small-batch, local honey helps your allergies symptoms go down.” Or something like that.)

And while we’re fond of Urban Hive for the honey’s rich, golden flavor, small-batch quality and medicinal benefits, we’re especially taken by Cantrell’s all-natural approach and devotion to his bees and his community.

Todd Cantrell has been fascinated with bees for nearly his entire life. The Tennessee native grew up on a farm in White’s Creek, TN where his uncle — who lived “just a holler over” — had a few hives of his own. He marveled over the bees’ ability to survive the cold winters, to thrive in the hot summers, and moreover to produce pure, golden honey from what seemed like thin air. He was enchanted. “I’ve always had that inner farmer in me that wanted to leap out,” he said.

Although he grew up to be more of a city dweller than a country feller, Cantrell’s fascination for beekeeping never dwindled; he finally ordered his first batch of bees in 2009. With a lot of help from YouTube University, plenty of reading material from stacks on stacks of books, and a whole lot of trial and error, his fascination eventually grew into a hobby that continues to stretch and grow today.

An East Nashville resident who today lives in the heart of Lockeland Springs, Cantrell says he actually purchased his home with the intention of digging in the dirt and housing his bees — he is an outdoorsman at heart. With a sizeable yard and a sprawling garden, plus the abundance of Shelby Park just a stone’s throw away, he’s afforded plenty of space to not only keep his bees, but to feed them too. “I have two hives in my back yard currently and can manage up to four,” he said, “but with kids in the neighborhood, I don’t have a ton more than that.”

A lover of bees more than a lover of the money he makes from them, he is careful of his hives’ placement, bearing in mind that bees typically swarm once or twice a year, and that seeing such a swarm can create a bit of panic amongst the bee-averse. (Typically swarming happens between March and June; although a bit frightening, swarming is actually a good thing for bee livelihood, as it indicates that they’re reproducing.)

For the first couple of years that he yielded sweet, golden honey, Cantrell said he mainly gave it away. Friends, family and neighbors were the lucky beneficiaries of his new pastime, particularly since he himself doesn’t actually eat the stuff. “I don’t actually like honey,” he shrugged. Eventually the yield became more than he and his friends could consume and he began wholesaling to coffee shops in his neighborhood. Urban Hive Honey was born.

Urban Hive Honey

Following the tornado that devastated Nashville in on March 3rd of this year, many of Urban Hive’s outposts — coffee shops and small markets in East Nashville — were no longer able to open their doors, much less sell UH Honey. And in the wake of a pandemic that has created negative ripples across every single industry, Todd’s nearly 40-year career in theatrical wardrobe has been put on pause.

But while so many were affected by both catastrophes this spring, his beehives have remained largely unaffected. Heck, they’ve probably been given more attention what with Todd’s open availability!

And while he’s glad to have more time to spend outdoors, digging in the dirt and keeping as eye on his bees, he still considers beekeeping an enjoyable hobby with a positive byproduct: investing into the wellbeing of bees, prolonging their lives, and ultimately doing the same for ours.

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