Local beekeepers making delicious honey, what more could you want? OpenHive is ran by beekeepers Kyle, Mark and Jack, who are based in Dublin. With a focus on environmental sustainability, OpenHive rears and breeds Irish black honeybees, keeping them with as few interventions as possible to maintain the most natural process. In addition to maintaining local biodiversity, OpenHive’s focus on sustainability can be seen through their elimination of single-use plastic labelling through their screen-printed jars that can be returned for future reuse! We had a chat with the owners about starting up OpenHive and their process behind it all.
This producer spotlight is part of our series for the brands that will be highlighted at TheTaste.ie Producer’s Row with Taste of Dublin. These producers will be present during the festival, so make sure to come along and try them out. You can purchase tickets here, and learn more about the Producer’s Row here
Have you always had a great love of food?
Myself, Kyle and Jack all come from separate backgrounds but have a passion for nature, for bees and of course for honey. We all love food and are proud to see OpenHive honey rub shoulders with the best produce in Ireland
Can you tell me about your own background in the food industry?
OpenHive is primarily a beekeeping and honeybee conservation organisation. The raw Irish honey our native honey bees produce is a part of the project and seeing it on shelves in shops, cafes and restaurants in Dublin, Wicklow and Galway fuels our conservation work.
What inspired you to set up your business? Did you notice a gap in the market?
We set up the company in 2019 with the aim of helping our native Irish honey bee and keeping bees as sustainably as possible. We use traditional methods of beekeeping with a modern approach. In terms of the food industry – our honey is raw, Irish and we can trace it to the very hive it came from. Its a genuine local product for our customers and supporters. For us that is very important in a time when a lot of honey is not as it appears to be.
How did you set up the business and how has it been growing over time?
We were friends first and then began the business together – a risky path but it has gone well for us. We focused on what we wanted to do as beekeepers, how we would go about achieving that and there has been both an organic growth and a carefully planned development from there. The three of us have worked hard to expand the business over the past four years. It takes time and effort and being part of events like The Taste of Dublin help us get our message to more people.
Is this your first time taking part in Taste of Dublin?
Last year was our debut at Taste of Dublin and we had an amazing weekend. The buzz about the Iveagh Gardens, the people we met, the food we tasted and the energy we left with made the busy days worth it!
Do you have anything special planned for your stand at Taste of Dublin?
We are excited to talk to people about the native Irish honey bee and to showcase our latest honeys including the heather honey made in the Wicklow mountains which has similar health benefits to Manuka honey from New Zealand (as shown by a recent TCD study).
Where do you source the ingredients used to make your product(s)?
Our honey is all Irish, raw and from our hives in Dublin, Wicklow and Galway. We don’t add anything to our honeys – we let the bees forage on the local flora!
Can you tell me about some of the benefits associated with your product(s)?
Honey is a natural product, produced by bees. It is full of amino acids, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and sugar. As part of a balanced diet, honey can help your immune system, alongside tasting amazing!
How important has social media been for you in spreading the word?
Essential. We have made so many contacts through Instagram and LinkedIn. Both platforms are vital for us in terms of meeting like-minded people, starting conversations and showing people what we do and why we do it.
What makes your product unique?
From a broader perspective the fact that we are a conservation project makes OpenHive honey unique. Every jar sold supports the native Irish honey bee.
From a honey perspective, every jar of honey we produce comes from a specific place where our bees have foraged for that honey. No two apiaries will produce the same flavour, so technically all the apiaries produce unique honey. Raw Irish honey is a healthier, more natural and tastier product than imported supermarket honey.
Where can people get your product (shops, restaurants?)
We sell our products through our website, so we can send our honey directly to your front door. Or you can pick it up in shops, restaurants and cafes in Dublin, Wicklow and Galway. Our full list of stockists is here.
Can you tell me some of the chefs and restaurants using your produce?
We work with a number of innovative and brilliant chefs including Jess Murphy in KAI (Galway) and Peter Thompson in Flout! Pizza (Belfast). We also supply honey to Bread41 (Dublin), to Camile Thai (nationwide) and to Ard Bia (Galway).
What, do you think, are some of the most interesting dishes that have been created with your product? Do you have any favourites?
We have lots of favourites but some standouts would be:
- Flout! Pizza’s garlic, salt and honey focaccia
- Bread 41’s honey bread
- KAI ‘s Burnt OpenHive Gelato
- Camile Thai’s Honey Duck Stir Fry
- Hapi Bakery’s Sourdough
Are there any other small Irish food producers you admire?
Of course! We really admire the hard work that Katie, Casper and their team are doing over at White Masu. Harry Colley of Harry’s Nut Butter is blazing a trail for Irish food producers. We really enjoyed working with the Wicklow Wolf crew earlier this year- they’re focused on local suppliers, work so hard and are just really good people.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced since going into business?
OpenHive is relatively unique in that we are beekeepers first and business people second, so combining the passion we have for our bees with running a business has been hard at times. We’re constantly learning, studying and developing as a group.
When we began, all three of us were based in Dublin but now we live in Wicklow and Galway so adapting to that is challenging but as with every other issue we have faced, we are working at it as a team and improving as we go.
What do you feel is your biggest achievement to date with this business?
We pride ourselves on the education part of our business whereby we take on volunteers and train them in, over the course of a beekeeping season. Not only have we met some wonderful people but being able to pass on the tradition of beekeeping as a life skill and passion means a lot to us.
Could you ever have imagined doing anything else with your life?
The three of us come from very different backgrounds – the nonprofit sector, secondary level education and professional sport, so in a way we have all lived different lives away from OpenHive already. We are very passionate about beekeeping so OpenHive will definitely be a part of our lives. In many ways, it feels like we are only just getting started!
What does the future hold for your business?
More bees, more honeys and more excitement no doubt! The first 4 years have been a rollercoaster, in the most positive way possible. We have learned so much and grown in many ways. We are really looking forward to seeing where it will all go over the years ahead.
Anything further to add?
We are very much looking forward to meeting new people and sampling new food at Taste this year!
Whether you want to learn chef skills from the best, shake your way through a cocktail masterclass, transport yourself to a tapas bar in sunny Spain or find a fellow food lover to feast with, there is plenty to see, do and devour at Taste of Dublin.
TheTaste.ie is now sponsoring the Producer’s Row at Taste of Dublin 2023. The producers featured this year are:
- Open Hive
- Kylemore Farmhouse Cheese
- Ellie’s Kitchen Home Edition
- Coconut & Moo Moo
- Stinky & Scorchy
- Nana’s Tea
- Dublin Hills Goats Cheese