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As Sweet as Akron Honey

Punctuating his speech with a “you know what I mean” to underscore a point and often breaking into a good-hearted chuckle leading to a full-throated guffaw, Wesley Bright continues to be nothing if not enthusiastic about his life and his business, Akron Honey.

The conversation with Mr. Bright, owner, and founder of Akron Honey, accelerated quickly from, “How did you get here?” With “I’ll give you the juicy version!” 

Photo Courtesy Wolfgang Hasselmann

“2013. You know, that’s kind of where it all started. I was still working in corporate America, and every day on my way to work, I would pass this vacant lot that was around the corner from my house. And, you know, I didn’t think anything of it. But like, one day, I looked on Zillow. And, you know, it was like, for sale and I’m like, okay, so I, I saw the price, but it was dirt cheap! Next thing, you know, we’re buying it. And, you know, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with it.”

In his own words, Mr. Bright didn’t know what to do with the piece of land he had just purchased (a fact that most would find daunting). That moment, however, was just a speed bump because it becomes pretty clear that Mr. Bright is one to constantly move and make plans.

“I was thinking, you know, maybe we can do some, you know, a community garden or maybe, you know, do some urban farming. But then I settled on honeybees. And I got to tell you, like, I didn’t know anything about honeybees at all!”

Once again, to most people, this lack of formal training in a delicate hobby like apiculture would prove too far a bridge to traverse. But Wesley Bright shouldn’t be classified as “most people.”

Laughing again, Akron, Ohio’s number one honey lover, continued:

“Nothing, actually, nothing turned out how I thought it was…I thought it was just going to be like, you know, a little side hustle, a little hobby. And I thought I would, you know, learn how to keep bees, which I did. But everything was different. Like, our approach was different from day one. So like, I started, I started keeping these bees. And when it was time to harvest the honey, you know, I guess I kind of got a reputation early, early on for being like an experimental beekeeper.”

In this last part, Wesley said with great pride, his overwhelming sense of curiosity and thirst for novel approaches shining through as he continued to describe his experimental methods for harvesting his honey, “In the most thoughtful way,” as he puts it. 

One example of his methodology is his straightforward mental exercise of wondering what honey might taste like from a hive of bees on another side of town. This hive has been pollinating and sourcing from different plants in another part of the city, just a few miles away.

Photo Courtesy Bianca Ackermann

“I started to buy a second vacant lot on the east side of Akron in a historic area called Middlebury. And, you know, Middlebury is really interesting. It’s historic, but like, it’s like a really depressed area in Akron, like, you know, arguably, it’s probably one of the ugliest parts of Akron because it’s like industry, it’s like scrap yards and stuff. So like, you know, there was a vacant piece of land next to a scrap yard across the street from the scrap yard. And, you know, it was also for sale even cheaper than the first vacant lot. And so I bought it, trying even just for that chance to have a new flavor.”

The results speak for themselves.

Speaking of one of their most popular kinds of honey from this location, the fall honey, near “blood red” in color, Wesley’s voice rose in excitement. “It’s so magical that like, it is…it’s got its own following…like people just wait all year for Middlebury red!”

Our conversation covers everything from new honey recipes and locales to skincare products and giving back to the community in Northeast Ohio. Wesley Bright and Akron Honey are just getting started in their community. Based on his plans and enthusiasm for his hobby turned business, it’s easy to get the sense that their community will only get bigger and more honey-rich every day.

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