Okay, here’s an admission: I used to moonlight as a secret shopper. I received a monthly list of fast food restaurants, items to buy, and forms to fill out. I went to these establishments and bought the food, checked the restrooms, looked under the tables, and counted my change. I returned an item to the counter and said it wasn’t what I ordered . . . although it actually was. How was I treated? Was the staff helpful or rude? Was the problem resolved? Then I examined the food: Was it presented well? Served at the proper temperature? Did it smell right? Thank heavens, I didn’t have to eat it.
But somehow I never lost the secret shopper mentality, and every time I order some bee-related product, I strip the HBS signature from my name and use an alternate e-mail address. I like to see what the service and products are really like. Fun, huh?
Well, one day before Christmas I was in the mood for an obscure varietal honey. I clicked around until I stumbled on the Flying Bee Ranch in Salem, Oregon—an apiary with a wondrous assortment of varietal honeys. Since my home is already inundated with honey, I had to select carefully. But omg such decisions! There was meadowfoam, lavender, pumpkin, carrot blossom, white sage, fireweed, and baby’s breath among others.
Since my degree in agronomic crops came from OSU, I am familiar with the Willamette Valley and the astonishing assortment of seeds and vegetables grown there. There’s a special place in my heart for the Valley, so I went ahead and placed an order.
Flying Bee Ranch does not have a secure website, so you place your order by e-mail and they reply and finalize the order amount, shipping costs, and payment method. This is typical for small establishments, but what was not typical was the speed of their reply. Not only was it fast, but everything cost less than their already reasonable listings—including the postage. They explained that the postage was less due to my close proximity to them, still, they could have easily collected the whole thing and I would not have known the difference.
They sent me a delivery confirmation and the package arrived exactly when they said it would. That’s just the beginning. The package was clearly addressed, perfectly wrapped, and even the labels were glued on straight. (I can tell these people take good care of their bees because they are meticulous about the details.) Inside the box, along with the honey, I found a hand-written thank-you note, a little medallion that reads, “Have a honey of a day,” and a free sample of 14 honey stix. I was just blown away.
In a later post I will write about the honey and the Willamette Valley. In the meantime, treat yourself to a rare varietal from these people. I notice some varieties are sold out for now, but many are still available. And then there’s always next season and the possibility of parsnip honey—something else to add to my wishlist!