“It's a sticky process, but it is fun,” said Yvonne Roe, who owns Bourbon Honey Farm with her husband, James, bringing homemade raw savory liquid and cream honey to Rolla and the surrounding areas in Phelps County.
Yvonne and her husband have been producing raw honey for five years on their farm nestled in Bourbon Missouri, and Yvonne assured, “I haven’t been making the honey the honey bees make it.”
Yvonne and her husband are aiding in helping honey bees in a time where both wild and managed bee colonies have declined because over the last half century pesticide use in agricultural and urban areas have increased, according to Michigan State University Department of Entomology Native Plants and Ecosystem Services.
This, in turn, has left honey bees without nesting sources along with food, and through their farm, both Yvonne and her husband are providing honey bees with a place to live and raise their young. In turn, the honey bees offer delicious honey that Yvonne and her husband naturally extract.
The U.S. production of honey has declined, and a local source for natural raw and cream honey that comes in a variety of flavors is a treat for the area.
Honey production in 2017 from producers totaled 148 million pounds, a decline of 9 percent from 2016. In 2017 there were 2.7 million colonies producing honey, a drop of 4 percent from 2016, according to the 2018 report by the National Agricultural Statistics Service of the United States Department of Agriculture.
The Bourbon Honey Farm has had a successful year with her honey bee colonies, and Yvonne explained how the honey is extracted from the honey bees they house in beehives in their backyard.
First, she said that the honey is taken off of the frames that the honey bees have filled full of honey. A hive frame is a block structure in a beehive that holds the honeycomb within the enclosure where bees store honey and pollen.
The hive frame plays a crucial part in the extraction of honey and can be removed in order to check on the health of the bees and to extract the excess honey.
“You get the honey off of the frames that the honey bees have filled full of honey,” she said. “Then we go ahead, and we bottle the honey, and we bottle it right there in our house.”
Yvonne further explained that 95 percent of customers say that their doctors recommend the local honey because the local honey is excellent for their allergies, “so they enjoy getting the local honey.”
The honey comes in a variety of flavors -- natural, cinnamon, blackberry, and pecan. Honey sticks and cream honey are sold as well.
“Pure raw honey will crystallize after a while, it’s kind of sandy like when it gets crystallized, and we have taken this raw honey, and we have forced it to crystalize quickly, and consequently you get a really smooth butter, and you can spread it on toast,” she explained.
Real cinnamon is used for the cinnamon flavor, and the blackberry and pecan are artificial commercial candy flavorings because “some people are allergic to different things, and we try to be protective of that.”
Yvonne and her husband sell their honey at the local farmer's markets and directly from their home, where some people prefer the natural flavor and stick with that, and then there are others who prefer the pecan like her husband.
“We have ladies that have even taken the pecan flavor, and when they are roasting their chicken they will put it on top of their chicken,” she said.
Yvonne and her husband enjoy working with bees and providing the community with local honey while giving the bees a place to flourish.
Honey bees happen to be the world’s most important pollinators in the natural ecosystem and a vital contributor to the function of the environment, according to a 2018 study showing the importance of honey bees led by biologists at the University of California San Diego.
“This is what the bees do for us, aren’t they beautiful,” Yvonne exclaimed.