Hunter's Honey Farm can trace its
beginnings of managing bees and harvesting nature's liquid gold
for more than a century. Gilbert Perigo, the farm and family
patriarch, began beekeeping while he was still in high school in
Boonville, Indiana and by 1910, was using several hives to
pollinate the family apple orchard. In 1951, Gilbert retired
from teaching and moved his family to Mooresville, Indiana.
There, he began what you find today at Hunter's Honey Farm.
His daughter, Marian, married Max Hunter
and continued the tradition. Their son Tracy and his son Ross,
make four generation of beekeepers. You can be assured when you
visit Hunter's Honey Farm that it is a first class beekeeping
I visited there a few days ago on a Travel
Media showcase post trip. What fun and so educational. This is a
perfect trip for family. Kids will be fascinated watching the
bees at work. There is a display hive in the barn/store where you can
see the bees in a hive through a glass. The shop also offers
honey and many other products we sometimes forget originate with
those busy little bees; creams and lotions, candles, soaps,
candies and other items.
|Inside the store at
Hunter's Honey Farm
Hunter's offers several tours. Our tour was
so informative but would appeal to young and old. Emma, our
guide, took us through the farm's behind-the-scenes operation.
We learned about how honey is stored, bottled and extracted.
Everything is done on site. The exceptions are the candy and the
honey straws which is made with their honey but sent out to be
produced. We saw the raw wax and propolis that bees make besides
honey. We learned that bees are a lot like me. They don't like
to be active in cold weather. In winter the food is supplemented
with sugar water. Hunter's Farm has over 60 bee yard all over 60
to 80K per hive and several hundred hives per yard.
|The hive inside the store
|| The honey extractor
She explained about the uses for the wax.
Naturally the prettier sections are used in the comb honey. (I
discovered that comb honey is helpful for anyone who had high
cholesterol without the harmful effects of statins. Honey is an ancient medicinal product. It is a
natural antibiotic if you are cut or injured. Of course, it is
known for curing allergies. Remember, I'm not a doctor but check
this out for yourself.)
She showed us the honey extractor machine
and explained the process. The frame is scraped to take off the
wax the bees have put to hold the honey in the little hexagonal
compartments. Then it is put into the machine and then the
machine is turned on and spun around and forced the honey out.
They do strain the honey but it is raw and has tiny particles of
propolis and bits of comb. This is the best way to eat honey.
Lanny, one of the bee keepers, took us out
in front where he had a EZ-up screen tent set up. Inside he had
a live hive open with bees buzzing around him. He used a smoker
rather than wearing a protective suit. He explained, "The main
communication in a hive is by pheromones, by scent. That's why
we use the smoke to disrupt the communications. The guard bees
protect the hive. And if they perceive that I am a problem, I
might be hurting."
|Emma holding a foundation
He used a hive tool, something that looked
like a pry bar, to open lift out the frame. He explained that
the frame is man-made. It's called foundation and is made of
natural bee's wax. He showed us some worker bees and told us
that "When she emerges from the cell, she is covered with hair
has four wings, six legs, two stomachs and two glands. That is
her equipment she uses throughout her life. The glands produce
wax. One stomach is for her own use and one she uses for
Lanny talked about the social system in a
hive. He explained that there is only one queen and some drones,
with worker bees composing the majority of the population. The
queen has only one job, to lay eggs. The drone's only task is to
mate with the queen. Sounds easy except that after the drones
are thrown out of the hive and die. The workers, female bees who
do not lay eggs comprise the work force. They rotate through
four jobs throughout their lives. Housekeeping, nursery bees
than guard bees who protect he hive and field bees who go out
and collect nectar and pollen and bring that back to the hive.
Housekeeper bees remove it from the field bees and store it in
the cells, dry it and then cap it.
|Lanny shows us a busy frame
filled with worker bees
The pollen gathering is so important to
humans. Lanny explained that over 75% of what we eat is
pollinated by the honey bees. The bee population is still down
about one third of what it should be.
He showed us the difference between the
pollen and the honey in the cells.
We even got to see the
queen. She is a bit larger than the workers.
He showed us the brood chamber where the
bees are raised. Many of the cells were open where the bee had
emerged as an adult. In the bottom of some of the cells we could
see the royal jelly as a white dot in the bottom of the cell.
The average brooding time for a worker is 21 days, 15 to 16 days
for a queen and 24 for a drone. The average life cycle of the
queen is two to five years. The workers only live about five to
six weeks since they work themselves to death.
Drones, who don't work, only last a few weeks.
If you are traveling with kids they will be
fascinated by the bees. Talk about up close and personal, some
of them had escaped from the tent and were buzzing around trying
to get back in. The one in the header was just about a foot away
from me when I photographed her. None of us got stung except
Lanny who did get one sting when a bee flew up his shirt sleeve.
|Rolling the candle
||The finished product
Next stop we went inside to create our own
bee products. First we made a beeswax candle by rolling a thing
sheet of bees wax around a wick. Then we moved into the bottling
room and bottled our own little bear jar of nature's purest
|Bottling our own jars of honey
Hunter's also has a 65 acre hardwood forest
and a Christmas tree farm. They also offer tours of these
Bees are interesting, Honey is delicious.
It's a natural win-win tour. Lanny summed it up well. "Out of
everything God had created, outside of humans, I think they are
number one because everything even down to the venom, everything
they create is beneficial to us."
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