by: Kristin Evenrud, Grocery Manager
For some the sound of bees elicits fear and dread, while others hear love. You’ve probably been at a picnic, where a child runs, screaming, dropping their hot dog in the dirt just because a bee is near. Then there are the brave souls who tend hives of bees, nurturing those yellow and black critters until the amber, sweet honey is ready. We are lucky to have three wonderful families producing honey for the Oneota Co-op. Their passion is evident and their product superb.
Owned and operated by Manley and Linda Bigalk. Their Century Family Farm is in northern Howard and Winneshiek counties and in addition to bees they also raise corn, soybeans and hay. Manley has over 50 years of experience working with bees. They are the largest of our producers with around 650 hives. They are currently semi-retired and previously had roughly 1,400 hives. They also have been providing honey to the Fareway grocery store chain for the last 20 years.
The bees stay out all year in their “deeps” collecting pollen and doing what bees do. At the end of August the Bigalks collect the honey from the “supers,” which are extensions placed on the hives where the bees put the additional honey for collection. Linda says that the bees don’t really like it when they take the honey, but that she and Manley don’t worry about getting stung. They use a cherry scented substance that drives the bees downward and allows Manley the opportunity to extract the honey from the “super”.
Steve and Jeannie Daughton have been in the honey business since 1998. Both also work at Deco and operate a B&B out of their home. They have about 100 hives in 5 locations around the Highlandville, IA area. Their total honey production depends on the weather, the bees health, good hive management, and a lot of luck. They usually are able to extract around 6,000-8,000 lbs of honey in a good year.
The Daughton’s method for extraction depends on the weather and temperament of the bees. Most often they use fume boards or a leaf blower. They do all their packaging in a honey house. This is a converted milk house that has worked out very well for bottling and extracting. All other equipment is stored in a shed. Steve and Jeannie keep bees because they enjoy working outside and feel that bees are a vital component to successful agriculture.
Coon Creek Ranch
Coon Creek Ranch honey is produced by David Wadsworth and Heidi Betz of rural Decorah. Along with their young daughter, Amelia, they have been producing honey from their 18 hives since 2000. They have been selling their local, raw honey here at the Co-op since 2007. They got started when they moved back to the Midwest and decided that bees seemed like a nice complement to their market garden. David’s favorite part of the honey production process is during the “flow,” or the period during which the bees are bringing in an excess of honey. During that time (late June to early August), the hives are swarming with activity and there is the wonderful smell of ripening honey. Coon Creek Ranch produces raw honey (unheated) because the beneficial bacteria, enzymes and delicate floral essences which give honey its wonderful variety of flavors are greatly reduced by heat.
Come on into the Co-op anytime to find these, and many other local products. Remember buying local products is just another way of helping out your neighbors and enriching your community.
Eight Health Benefits of Honey
As a healing remedy, raw honey can address multiple issues. There are far more benefits of honey than I will include here. Scientific research is ongoing surrounding the benefits of this remarkable substance. I’ve included some interesting benefits that you may not know about.
Reference: Global healing center. www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/health-benefits-of-organic-locally-grown-raw-honey/