Merced County Times Newspaper
The Power of Positive Press

Millennial beekeeper mixes CBD oil with honey products


A small bee garden grows and thrives down the south side of Merced.

It’s a little miracle of nature thanks to Jessica Gonzalez, the garden’s 28-year-old caretaker and beekeeper.

Gonzalez originally comes from a background in computer science, but she has just celebrated her first year in the honey business with her shop, Happy Organics. The inspiration for the start-up company came from the experimentation she undertook while her late father, Salvador Gonzalez, was in the treatment stage of terminal cancer.

Gonzalez started combining CBD oil with honey in hopes of bringing pain relief to her father. CBD is the abbreviation for cannabidiol, a chemical compound found in cannabis or hemp. It’s not to be confused with THC, known for producing a psychoactive state of euphoria or a “high.”

“He was taking it for pain relief,” Gonzales explained of the marijuana bud her father would ingest wholly. “He was eating the entire thing. It had a grassy and earthy taste that isn’t really enjoyable. And so I thought, what if I mixed CBD oil with the honey? That could make it taste better.”

Thus, Happy Organics was born.

“I kind of snowballed into it,” Gonzalez explained. “I never imagined it to be a business when I started.”

Today her shop has added raw honey, muscle balms, chocolate, and chocolate tonics to the mix of CBD products. Every item is infused with hemp oil and promises to get you happy — not high.

Gonzales had learned the art of beekeeping from her father who worked in the agricultural trade.

“In the beginning, I started out just helping my dad with his bees,” Gonzalez reflected, remembering that her father and late mother, Angela Gonzalez, were always fond of animals and nature.

Happy Honey, the family farm Jessica Gonzalez resides on, is currently home to two horses, eight dogs, eight peacocks, 13 bee boxes, and three adjacent gardens. All remnants of the interests and passions her father and mother used to live through.

Her mother passed on not long before her father was diagnosed with terminal cancer at the end of 2017. After a year of treatment, Salvador Gonzalez lost his battle to the disease in late 2018.

Although Jessica Gonzalez has always called Merced home, she lived far away from it for some time. After graduating from Golden Valley High School, she set off to attend Mills College, a private liberal arts and science school in Oakland.

After earning a degree in Computer Science, she worked in San Francisco as a software developer. Two years in the city proved to be enough for Gonzalez, and she soon left the bay for the city of Salinas in Monterey County.

In Salinas, Gonzalez worked on creating an app that would simplify the paperwork load of agricultural workers. During this time, Gonzalez discovered her mother was terminally ill. She soon moved back to Merced and decided to commute back and forth between the two cities, hoping to finish the app development with her co-founder.

“Then my mom passed,” Gonzalez stated. “Two months later, I realized I wasn’t happy. I wanted to leave … and so I left.”

Gonzalez came back to Merced permanently in 2017. She slowly began rediscovering herself and her interests.

“That’s when I started figuring out what I wanted to do next. What do I really like doing? What am I happy doing? My decisions were based on whether they brought me happiness or not — and that’s all I wanted to think about,” Gonzalez told the Times.

An “ofrenda,” or Day of the Dead altar, decorates the living room in the house Gonzalez shares with her sisters. Two smiling portraits, Salvador and Angela, are at the center of the altar that is adorned with a jar of coffee, tortilla maker, nativity set, an American flag, and a banner decorated with felt honey bees.

The past three years have proven to be both critical and monumental for Gonzalez. She spends her days overseeing and maintaining her hive, packaging and shipping out orders, updating the Happy Organic website, researching beekeeping methods, networking, and brainstorming new ideas to further enhance the idea of sustainability and education in beekeeping.

“I am thinking of creating this network of gardens and bees,” Gonzalez says of Happy Organics’ future. “I want to get back into tech and give the community visibility to what we are doing.”

Currently, a sister garden is projected to begin in Fruitvale, a neighborhood in Oakland. The garden, which Gonzalez hopes is finished by the summer of 2020, is meant to inspire more community gardens and providing accessible food to low-income communities that lack access — like those in south Merced.

The Happy Organics website describes the company as “A combination of family love, and a skill passed between generations.” Gonzales hopes that with her garden, she will be able to educate and inspire others into the world of beekeeping.

“In this year, I found what I needed to find. This is where I was supposed to be,” She concluded.

Gonzalez began her hive with 5,000 bees. In just one year, she has doubled her population and will hopefully be entering spring with a hive of 13,000.

You can find her products online at:

You might also like