Keeping beehives behind their College of Charleston apartment launched Liam Becker and John Berdux’s career in the honey industry. What started as a hobby soon evolved into a passion for creating top-quality, from-the-source products. The Holy City-based Apis Mercantile takes a very different approach to honey production from others in the industry: The business supplements their own supply with honey sourced directly from small, sustainable apiaries, as opposed to commercial honey conglomerates. By working with similar producers in the Lowcountry, New Hampshire, Florida, and out West, Apis Mercantile creates close relationships with their partners and develops an informed appreciation for the influences that regionalized flora have on various honey sources.
This approach sparked admiration from professionals within Charleston’s iconic restaurant industry. “I love that they’re working with more than one producer,” says Charlie Layton, the executive chef at Basic Kitchen in downtown Charleston. The restaurant designs their menu around thoughtfully sourced ingredients from a carefully chosen group of farmers, fishermen, and other purveyors.
Apis Mercantile is Layton’s liquid sweetener of choice. “[Apis Mercantile] connects the dots between the producer and the customer—that’s a big part of our mission at Basic Kitchen,” he says. He uses flavors, from the bourbon-barrel aged honey to the garlic-fermented honey, to add natural sweetness to the restaurant’s dishes. One recipe particularly close to Layton’s heart is the honey pie made with Apis’ wildflower honey. It’s his Lowcountry riff on the English treacle tart that he grew up loving in Cornwall.
Treacle, a thick, dark syrup made from refined sugar, is the British cousin to molasses. However, treacle is thinner in texture and lighter in color. The bright, floral honey presented the perfect consistency.
But it’s not just for the customers—the honey plays a key part in Layton’s diet outside of work. He adds Apis Mercantile’s honey to his daily smoothies, which fuel his training for the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, an ultra-endurance rowing event across the Atlantic Ocean. His go-to flavors are the orange blossom honey and the bourbon-barrel aged honey.
Layton’s not alone. From Charleston to Los Angeles, markets, specialty foods stores, bakeries, gourmet delis, and boutique hotels carry Apis Mercantile’s products. “It sounds ridiculous, but it’s really hard to find anything that’s pure local at that price point,” Layton says. It all ties back to Becker and Berdux’s mission to make quality, natural products accessible to all.
Bringing Apis Mercantile Home
For unmatched floral-infused sweetness, try your hand at Basic Kitchen’s honey pie recipe. As one of the primary ingredients, be sure to use a good-quality honey. You can order Apis Mercantile honey online or use their store locator to find it near you.