The Honey Exchange sells all sorts of honey, beeswax and bee-themed products, from food to jewelry. Photos courtesy of The Honey Exchange

For anyone who hasn’t heard the buzz about honeybees, they’re a crucial part of the planet’s entire ecosystem, and almost all of our food sources depend on them in one way or another. Fortunately, places like The Honey Exchange are on the case.

The family business, run by Meghan Gaven, her husband and master beekeeper Phil Gaven, and their daughters Maura and Caitlin, started with a single hive in 2008. As their enthusiasm expanded, so did their concept. They began teaching new beekeepers, offering presentations at area schools, and dedicating more and more of their own time to learning and taking courses about honeybees.

The Honey Exchange is a family-run business, located on Stevens Avenue in Portland.

Since then, The Exchange, as it’s referred to by beekeepers, has become a hive of honeybee appreciation. For the region’s network of beekeepers, the Gavens have created a facility where they can easily and safely extract the honey they’ve farmed, and also a place where they can buy equipment and other tools required for their apiaries.

For the general public, there’s an on-site gift shop that peddles honey and beeswax products (count on finding cinnamon honey spread, honey mustard and fennel pollen, among many other sweet edibles), plus honey accoutrements like bendy honey spoons and assorted other bee-centric products, like locally created jewelry (bee pendants and silver earrings mimicking honeycombs) and cool everyday kitchen pieces, like sandblasted ceramic bee mugs.

And then there’s the company’s public educational component. During the summer, The Honey Exchange extracts honey in its kitchen and often opens up the observation hive, which visitors can safely watch from behind the glass doors. “We want to have a store that expresses our admiration for everything honeybees do for the planet,” the family says.

And if it happens to inspire you to think about beekeeping on your own, the company offers beekeeping classes and events, including beginner beekeeping, hive maintenance classes and demonstrations that teach (with a hive inspection, weather permitting) how to manage a hive throughout the seasons and get it ready for winter. Other classes for more experienced beekeepers include how to manage bee swarming.

As for those who have no intention whatsoever of ever contending with bee swarms, you can simply go and support The Exchange’s efforts and the planet by buying some really excellent honey.

Alexandra Hall is a longtime New England lifestyle writer who recently moved to Maine.


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