Back about 30 years ago...kirk jones bought 2 hives of bees from a local beekeeper with the idea of making some honey for his family. He was inspired by a childhood memory of finding a log full of honeybees in the wilds of louisiana and fascinated with the pleasant hum of busy bees gathering nectar with no apparent regard for the onlookers.
well, those first two hives were so much fun, that the beekeeping turned into a full time endeavor within a few years. The garage became the first honeyhouse, and we pulled the back seat out of the car and sharon jones delivered the honey to traverse city, michigan. Oryana food co-op became our first customer and we had to expand the beehives just to meet the demand. We named the business jones bee yards.
by 1990, we were humming along pretty good, but started to have more problems with the bee mites that got imported from asia. As it turned out, we decided to take the bees to florida for the winter. The warmer weather encouraged the queen bees to lay lots of eggs and the hives became so full of bees, we could take some bees out of the hives and put them into new boxes and put in a new queen bee, and voila!...a new hive of bees. That really helped us to keep up our hive numbers up and to increase our hive count if needed.
at about the same time, another beekeeper, dave nesky from bingham, michigan teamed up with us and we renamed the business, sleeping bear farms/ sleeping bear apiaires. We found young local guys to help with the operation and really expanded our pollination services to the local cherry and apple farmers.
in 2002, we found a nice 40 acre farm in the panhandle of florida. Times were good with honey prices and we moved our florida operation from the central part of florida by orlando to the sticks of florida. The first few years were tough as we learned how to manage bees in a different climate with different floral sources that was a radical change from central florida. By 2006 we had found liquid gold that is. It's called tupelo honey, and we were sitting in the heart of the best tupelo area in the world. We had lots of help from the local beekeepers who took us under their wings.
in 2004 we started shipping our bees to california as the demand for honeybees grew to pollinate almond trees. We never dreamed that we would be sending out almost all of our bees for the winter. Traditionally, we would feed the bees in the fall and cross our fingers that they would be alive in the spring after a long cold winter. Now the bees could take a short rest after making star thistle honey in michigan and then depart to california in january for a nice break in the winter and provide us beekeepers with additional income. Now any bees that did not go to florida for the winter would go to california. Life is good!
We offer case price discounts and bulk raw honey in a variety of sizes through our online store.
I've been buying Sleeping Bear Star Thistle honey at the local Meijer store in Greenville, MIchigan, and I love it...it's delicious!
I used to work for a beekeeper in Rochester, MI and we would harvest clover/thistle honey and it was delicious. I have since moved to NYC and I miss this honey!
I ordered 4 gallons of Star Thistle Honey from Sleeping Bear Farms in Michigan on Saturday thru LocalHarvest online.... [more]
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This honey is wonderful! my kids no longer eat jelly on their PB sandwhiches. they will ONLY eat this honey on them! will always buy this honey!