Follow along each month in Attraction magazine as Sprout takes readers on tours of Mid-Shore farms. They will share stories from the road as they visit and learn about area farms. Sprout provides individually portioned ready-to-eat meals using fresh, local and organic ingredients, delivered directly to customers as well as on sale in their Grab-N-Go Café.
Fresh air, hives as far as the eye can see, and the steady buzz of thousands of busy bees is just another day at Apex Bee Company. Since starting out, with no farm, only what they referred to as their “summer kitchen,” this family business has grown immensely. Don John, managing member of Apex Bee Company, recalls that when their operation began it was nothing but “one outbuilding and several storage units.”
Now, Apex Bee Company has several facilities and the honey produced there is sold in locations across Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C. As the company expands, they’re making it easier than ever to get raw wildflower honey near you. Beekeeping is a fascinating profession and honey production is no simple task. So, what’s all the buzz about? To learn more about the process. we’ve asked John what life is like for his family, the staff, and the bees at the apiary.
At the Apex Bee Company apiary, honey is integral to the operation, but Don reminds us that it’s really all about the bees. The family and their employees are extremely passionate about their bees and making sure they stay safe and happy. A nod to their motto includes a clever play on words, “Bee-friendly, Bee-healthy.” You may wonder what sets this operation’s product apart from others that you’ve seen while browsing the aisles of the grocery store. Well, not only is their honey, local, raw and unprocessed, they also aim to “provide [their] customers with unique beekeeping products and experiences derived from the use of pure and all-natural tools, techniques, and ingredients,” says Don.
Most of us have heard of honey and even tried it, but how much do we really know about how it’s produced? Honey is made through a long, careful process and it is no small feat. Bees are hard workers and dedicate their lives to making this sweet and tasty product. While we’re aware of the general concept of how bees collect nectar from plants and carry it back to their hives where honey is produced, you may not know that it takes about 556 worker bees and about two million flowers to produce a single pound of honey!
Bees obtain nectar from flowers that they pollenate, and this sugary liquid is passed back and forth by hundreds of bees over time until it breaks down and becomes honey. It’s hard to wrap one’s mind around the lengths that these bees go to, considering that the average honeybee will make only 1/12 teaspoon of honey in its entire six-week lifespan. If your mind was blown by these facts alone, Apex Bee Company has several more interesting facts posted to their website.
Honey has been around far longer than any of us have. While it is not known exactly when the product was created, we can assume based on rock paintings of honey harvesting that date back 8,000 years and the fact that bees have been around 100 million years, that honey has existed for quite a while. From Spain to Rome, Israel to England, and several more locations, over the years, populations scaling the globe have recognized honey’s uses and benefits. For medicinal and culinary purposes since mankind can remember, honey has been a go-to.
So, was it the sweet taste, intriguing history, or something else that got Don into the honey collecting business? He admits that it was actually “an article in USA Today.” Don explains that the article he’s referring to was written regarding the plight of the honeybee. After this piqued his interest back in 2007, he wanted to learn more about honeybees, apiaries, and what it would take to become an apiarist. John states that with several years of research under their belt, he and his wife Cheryl, owner of the LLC business, went full time in May 2011.
Being advocates for buying from and supporting local businesses, Sprout was ecstatic to learn about Apex Bee Company. Through communications with the John family, Sprout has been given the opportunity to share Apex Bee Company honey with their customers in several ways. Not only does Sprout sell their honey alone in one-pound jars, they also include it in many of their products. From snacks to breakfasts, entrees and even drinks, Apex Bee Company honey is a vital ingredient in several of Sprout’s best-sellers. Honey from Apex Bee Company is consistent with Sprout’s concept of selling local and organic, while also adding sweetness and enriching the flavor of their foods.
Don expects great things for the company as it progresses. He tells us that “honey sales are on the upswing as people discover the many benefits of using raw honey as a sweetener in lieu of processed sugar products.” He acknowledges that they have exceeded their goal of 10% growth per year in both bee stock and honey sales. While things are going well now, Don worries about the beekeeping industry in the future as “U.S. beekeepers are losing ground.” While more people are purchasing honey, “60 to 70% of all honey is now imported from overseas,” Don informs us.
Those at Apex Bee Company hope that people will realize the importance of bees before it is too late. Many don’t know that “a third of what [they] eat has been touched by a honeybee at some point.” The John family encourages people to plant acres of “good long-term blooming cover” for the bees as they are doing on their new farm in Preston. Honeybees are extremely important, and Don refers to them as a “keystone species,” meaning that the impact they have on their community is substantial. Honeybees dedicate their lives to making the honey that we love, so it is vital that we keep them safe and give back.
To find out more about their story, goals, and product, visit apexbeecompany.com. Apex Bee Company is also in touch with the public through their Instagram and Facebook accounts. The John family is excited as they move forward and hope that people will “bee-there” and “bee-involved” when it comes to buying local as well as protecting the honeybees.
The author, Georgia Foster, age 17, lives on Maryland’s Eastern Shore with her mother and two sisters. She attends Easton High School and is passionate about writing, specifically feature writing and investigative journalism.
Are you tired of going to the grocery store, wandering the aisles for an hour, and waiting in line, only to buy the same items week after week? Are you looking for unique, healthy food choices and a place that is local and convenient to walk in and purchase them? Well, look no further… Welcome to Sprout’s Grab-n-Go Café! From organic bread, delicious meals, and delightful snacks, to thirst-quenching beverages and a variety of yummy spreads, Sprout offers an ever-changing menu. New items are constantly being introduced to Sprout’s selection, so stop by and see what’s new. Not sure if you want to buy something? Curious about any ingredient? A friendly member of the Sprout family will be happy to let you try a sample and answer any questions you may have. The newly built and easy-to-navigate Sprout Café is your solution to good food, every day. Sprout is located at 335 North Aurora Street in Easton. Open daily. Visit www.eatsprout.com.