Claire Tauzer of Sola Bee Farms, producers of Sola Bee Honey
Mother, wife, friend, yogi, high school teacher, Yolo CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer...and beekeeper. Now that's quite the resume.
Claire Tauzer isn't a "local" and she didn't intend to get into apiculture (the technical term for beekeeping). But here she is.
Claire is 1/2 of the family behind Sola Bee Farms, which produces the high-quality, sustainable and delicious local raw Sola Bee honey.
I actually met Claire and her son Madison through our Davis Mom's Group before I even knew she was a part of Sola Bee. Our sons are the same age so of course we would know each other -- the joys of small-town living.
Claire was kind enough to "sit down" with me (I use quotes because most of our conversations tend to take place over email and text -- the reality of being two business-owning toddler moms, even though we just live a few miles apart) and chat about sustainable farming, raw honey, marrying into a long-standing Yolo County family and being a small-business owning mama.
Trevor, Claire and Madison Tauzer, the family behind Sola Bee Farms
Not many kids dream of owning an apiary when they grow up -- how did you get into this business?
When I met Trevor in 2011, I was confused when he said he was a beekeeper. “For fun?” I asked him playfully. “Well yes, it is fun, but it’s also my passion and the family business.”
Trevor’s father Mark became a beekeeper in the early 70’s. Trevor helped his dad with the bees from a young age, and after graduating from UC Santa Cruz in 2007, he came home to help his father during a difficult time when many of the world’s honeybee hives were collapsing and dying.
Trevor helped his father rebuild, breed stronger queen bees, and find new areas to keep the bees where they have diverse food sources. In the years since, we have seen tremendous improvement in the health of our honeybee hives. The diverse areas where the hives were able to forage not only improved their health, but also resulted in more honey production in wonderful and unique varieties…and this is when Sola Bee was born.
Sola Bee Farms is the first honey company to produce and package their honey in a sustainable manner -- how does sustainable honey production look in practice? What makes it sustainable compared to traditional methods?
Sustainability is woven into our farm practices in many ways. Just like the flowers that rely on the sun's energy to grow and produce pollen and nectar for our honeybees, we rely on the sun to power our solar panels and keep the lights and equipment running on our farm.
Sola Bee comes from “solar” which is the renewable energy source we run our farm on. We decided to name our honey brand Sola Bee as an homage to the solar power we installed on our farm in the early 2000’s.
We use sustainable practices with our honey bee hives by only extracting honey when there is an excess production (more than the bees can eat!). The health of our hives come first, always.
When deciding on the types of jars and labels to use for our honey, we chose glass jars for their reusability and post-consumer paper with soy-ink for our labels. We wanted every element of our honey process to reflect our respect for the environment and the importance of using renewable or reusable materials.
Sola Bee, Sacramento Valley Wildflower raw honey
The Tauzer family has a deep history in this area (since 1861) -- what is it like having such a deep connection to the land, area and people?
Well, I never go to the grocery store without running in to someone we know! (Ha, me too girl, me too).
It’s an honor to be a part of such a large family and live on the farm that has been in our family since 1861. Our old house sometimes drives me crazy with the constant repairs, but being able to live where we work, sustain the farm and land through beekeeping, and cultivate new memories on such a historic farm is a true blessing.
We realize how lucky we are to be able to live on the family farm, and we do our best to honor the history by working hard to maintain it and add to it in meaningful ways.
What is your favorite thing about Northern California?
I love the diversity of Northern California. We have lush agriculture that produces so many types of food, as well as bustling cities full of culture and opportunity.
You're a mom and a core member of a successful family business -- it seems like it may have the tendency to become all-consuming. How do you take time for yourself/your relationships, etc?
Learning how to be a mom over the past year while still maintaining my work with our family business has been challenging. I’m still learning and growing, but I do my best to be present in whatever I’m doing in the moment. If I’m reading a book to my son, or answering an email, I try my best to take a breath and appreciate that moment.
I’m extremely grateful for the flexibility of my work, being able to work from home and create my own schedule.
I practice self care by exercising, taking Sundays off work, making waffles with Trevor and Madison, and reading good books while drinking tea with honey!
What is your favorite way to use honey?
I use honey multiple times a day! I like different varietals for different purposes. I take a spoonful straight of jar of our Wildflower honey to protect myself from pollen allergies.
I use our Yellow Star Thistle or Black Button Sage in my tea and as a glaze on goat cheese with crackers. I love to use our Wild Blackberry for baking muffins or cookies, or on Greek yogurt with blueberries.
Our California Seasonal is super yummy as a marinade or mixed with stone ground mustard on chicken. One of our go-to recipes is chicken breasts with stone ground mustard and honey with a bit of pepper. It’s so easy and simple, yet full of flavor! (We'll have to have Claire back to post this recipe!)
Poppy and Oak Market Box, featuring Sola Bee Honey
Sola Bee Farms is dedicated to bringing environmentally friendly raw honey to your home. You can find their honey as part of Poppy and Oak's Market Box (and our soon-to-be-released spring mini box), at Three Ladies Cafe, at Nugget Markets and more.