NORTH OGDEN, Utah (ABC4) — Fall means beautiful colors but it’s not just the trees that are popping with different shades of yellow. Fall also means Utah beekeepers are harvesting golden honey. If you’ve ever wondered how that honey gets from the hive to your home, one family of beekeepers has an inside look at the process.
The whirring of a machine ripples through a small room as it spins 34 wooden frames filled with honeycomb. The spinning results in the extruding sticky, sweet, golden honey.
“The wildflowers are blooming like crazy, and all of the trees are starting to bear more fruit,” Valerie Keller with HeartK Mountain Bees told ABC4. Keller, and her family, live in North Ogden and have land in the Monte Cristo Mountain area. A few years ago, they decided to get a beehive to help improve their mountain property which was seeing a decline in native flowers and shrubbery. Since then, she said they’ve seen a vast improvement in their land and have gone from one hive to 18.
“Honey is just the golden product of really hard work and the original goal of just pollinating the area,” Keller added.
Every fall, they collect wooden frames from the hives. Each frame is filled with honeycomb which protects the sweet liquid gold.
The outer layer of wax is removed from the honeycomb and the frames are placed in a large machine that looks like a metal drum. The machine spins the frames for 30 minutes. The honey is released from the combs, oozes out of the drum, is filtered and collected into five-gallon buckets. When full, each bucket weighs more than 60 lbs.
The work is labor intensive and done in a warm room that allows for the honey to freely flow, but the Kellers think it’s worth it. “It’s just natural honey and it’s the best flavor.”
The family rents the space to spin their honey from Deseret Bee Supply in Ogden.
“You can rent it out any time during the year but from the middle of August through the middle of October it is booked solid every single day that I am open,” store manager and owner Annessa Bachman told ABC4.
Bachman’s family sort of fell into beekeeping more than a decade ago. At that time, she said, the hobby wasn’t as popular as it is now. “My husband came home one day and said, ‘I bought a beehive,’” Bachman said through a chuckle.
She said her family quickly learned that supplies were hard to come by and decided to open their shop. She added: “Within two weeks we were open.”
Now, along with renting the kitchen for people to spin their honey, they sell beekeeping supplies, locally harvested honey, and teach classes to help those brave enough to venture into the hobby.
“It’s fun!” Bachman laughed. “Just do it! If you want to do it, just do it!”
While honey is a sweet payoff for lots of hard work, Bachman said many of their students start for a different reason. She explained that many who come to their classes are police officers, firefighters, doctors and others you might not suspect would want to have bees.
“Jobs that stress, intense jobs, they do beekeeping to calm down and to have something that’s just pure and natural,” stated Bachman. Something Valerie Keller knows firsthand. She said, “They sense that calmness and then they calm down so it’s really rewarding to get in and work a hive and see those results.”
Keller and her family recently won a blue ribbon at the Utah State Fair for their amber honey. During their recent spin, they collected nearly 750 pounds of the sweet stuff.