My name is Nathan Clarke, and I the owner of Mad Urban Bees, one of the first commercial urban apiaries in the country. Urban Honey is from the flowers, trees, parks, and gardens of Madison itself. I’m a beekeeper of 15 years. I started with two hives in my backyard, and ran Mad Urban Bees for 8 years as my career. Since 2018 Mad Urban Bees is more of a hobby, but I continue to keep bees around Madison. I have the privilege of being the beekeeper at Olbrich gardens for the past 8 years as well as at the Aldo Leopold Center in Monona.
My hives are located in the cities of Madison, Middleton, and Monona. My bees pollinate the gardens, trees, and flowers of this rich urban landscape. The honey is unique to Madison, a truly artisanal, unique honey.
There are a lot of urban beekeepers in Madison, and we are a very pro-bee town. Madison has a very strong local food movement, and the bees help that local food system by providing pollination and great tasting honey.
Urban Honey has a unique flavor that is light, floral, and spicy. It also changes with the seasons. We extract and bottle our honey in small batches, so we can promote this seasonality and locality. You are truly tasting the variety and diversity that Madison has to offer in the honey itself. We use wine tasting descriptions to help describe what flavors we can taste in our Urban Honey.
Bees thrive in the city. They actually can do better in the city than in the country. Cities have so many flowering trees, gardens, and ornamental flowers. They have such a wonderful variety of nectar and pollen to choose from. The Madison area also has a longer growing season than the surrounding farmland. They eat pollen and nectar from basswood, apple and crabapple trees, dandelions, creeping charlie, bergamot, sedum, asters, mint, oregano, roses, and so many others. And this variety of sources really improves the health of the bees and the taste of the honey.