Thursday, August 1, 2013

Montana Honey

-Posted by Isaac

As Jayne posted a couple weeks ago, we had a wonderful vacation this July. As you know, when you're seeing new places, people, and things, you're almost obligated to seek out the local food. Jayne posted about the bouncing Missoula market scene. I'm going to show you a couple of Montana beekeeping operations we ran across.
Just an hour after the plane landed, on our way north to Glacier National Park we sighted this:
I was going about 80 mph at the time, but of course a sudden find like this meant a rapid stop, turn around, and turn-in.
Arlee's was a small outfit. A few dozen hives and a help-yourself stand.
Prices were set to move honey ($4.00 / pound). Cheap!   ...And we bought accordingly.

Montana honey has a light candy-sweet taste. It's mostly knapweed (also known as star thistle) and clover. Fireweed in there too if you're lucky.
We went through Arlee's honey much too quickly. Actually, it took about a day of Glacier Park hiking and we were ready for more.

We were in the tiny town of Babb, a roadside stop really, on the east side of the park when Bridger stalked a honey stash in the small mercantile.

Talking to the two ladies in the store, we found out that this Glacier County Honey Company was just a few miles east. It was time for a side trip. (Really the best thing about vacations).
Driving out, we found a prairie just bursting with wildflowers and a sizable bee operation soon to be taking full advantage of the bloom.

Glacier County Honey Company is about a 1000 hive operation. They make the delicious light Montana honey in the summers and take all the bees to California for almond pollination in the winter.
They had a retail shop and several tables set up in one corner of the honey house. (Something we didn't do when I worked for the Morris Honey Company... but should have!)

Wax was processed in another corner of the spacious honey house.

We didn't get to meet the owners, but well-traveled employee Travis, gave us the lowdown on the operation.

Later, heading to another hike, Jayne and I checked out the company's blog. We found quite a few similarities between us and them (The owners- Greg and Courtney). Similar ages and ages of kids... similar hopes, dreams and aspirations.
Although I think maybe they are a bit smarter... choosing to make a living on bees in a place like this!
Ah, Montana

Back on the home front, I've been painting boxes and building equipment. Basically biding time while the bees dry the uncapped honey. I've now been around to all the bee yards and my initial excitement has quelled a bit. There is honey, I can't complain, but it still looks like a below average year as far as the summer honey is concerned. That's ok, we'll hope for a good goldenrod flow.

We don't have a prairie full of wildflowers or almond pollination contracts, but we do have a wonderful local customer base. Unlike the big western bee operations who mostly send their honey off in barrels, we get to see and talk to you, our market crowd, our grocery store customers. Thanks for your continued support!

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