The buzz at Jennings Arcade Mall on Old Main Street just might be about the recent move of Pure Florida Honey Company.
A bad pun, for sure, about the sweetest business in the Arcade, 417 12th St. W. The owners have heard them all. Not that they mind. They welcome the jokes and the business.
Owner Angela Ionita runs the raw honey store with her mother, Eva Ionita. Angela’s brother, Alex, handles the beekeeping in the field.
Pure Florida Honey Company was born about nine years ago, when Alex Ionita got interested in beekeeping.
“Alex didn’t want to do air conditioning and refrigeration like his father,” Eva Ionita said. “One of his father’s friends, Josh Gentry, opened his eyes to beekeeping.”
Initially, the family marketed their honey at the Bradenton Farmer’s Market on Old Main Street, before moving into a small retail space about 18 months ago in Jennings Arcade Mall. About one month ago, the company moved into a larger Arcade space, Suite 104 at the far end of the hall.
“It’s wonderful,” Eva Ionita said of the new space. “It is amazing that people are learning about the health benefits and physical benefits of honey. It’s been around forever and was found in King Tut’s tomb. People are cooking with it, consuming it.”
It is amazing that people are learning about the health benefits and physical benefits of honey. It’s been around forever and was found in King Tut’s tomb. People are cooking with it, consuming it.
Angela Ionita says the family is fortunate that it was able to move into the new space.
“We have a lot more traffic, and people are able to come in and browse,” Angela Ionita said.
In addition to honey, the company also sells honey-and-tea gift baskets, beeswax candles, soaps and beauty products. The company also sells works from Bradenton’s Village for the Arts.
“The public thinks honey is just honey, but it is a seasonal crop, depending on what’s flowering,” Eva said.
Pure Florida Honey Company is now featuring Brazilian pepper honey.
Being an invasive species, Brazilian pepper trees don’t get much respect.
But in its defense, Eva said, “The birds and the bees love Brazilian pepper. It’s an excellent honey.”
In a few weeks, orange blossom honey will start moving onto the store’s shelves, followed by saw palmetto honey and mangrove honey, she said.
Alex Ionita takes his bee hives to whatever is blooming locally, but also trucks them across the country to help farmers pollinate their plants. A shipment of the company’s bees are returning soon from California.
Eva Ionita’s parents were Hungarian and left that country after the 1956 revolution against occupiers from the Soviet Union. They arrived in the United States via Austria in 1960.
In 1995, the family moved to Bradenton, and Alex and Angela graduated from Manatee High School.
These days, Alex extracts the honey, and his mother and sister bottle it for sale.
The store is open 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday through Friday, and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday. In addition, the family still has a booth at the Bradenton Farmers Market from 9 a.m.- 2 p.m. on Saturdays from October through May.
For more information, visit purefloridaapiary.com or call 941-746-8600.