Mark began beekeeping in the late 1980's because he loved to eat honey, and considering how much of it he ate, decided he might as well raise it himself. It has turned into his most interesting hobby, one which captures the curiosity of many guests. His 'Bee Happy Honey Co.' normally maintains 9-12 hives.
Guia uses the honey extensively for cooking, consuming ~100 pounds per year. On an average year we harvest ~700 pounds of honey.
In Illinois, honey is produced primarily in the months of May-July. Mark extracts honey in July - September. If you visit in one of those months and your timing is good, you may have a chance to witness (or help with) the extraction process. Mark does not heat or filter his honey, thus allowing it to maintain its desirable enzymes. Mark is always happy to answer any questions about beekeeping as well as show you the bee equipment (without the bees, of course) or sell you some honey. He normally has 5 lb., 3 lb., 2 lb., and 1 lb jars for sale. It makes a great gift.
Beekeeping in the U.S. is no longer the simple hobby it was in the late 1980s. Accidental introduction of two species of Eurasian bee mites has taken a toll on bee populations, wiping out nearly all the wild honey bees. Because of this, managed bees are needed for crop pollination. Our honey bees, therefore are dual purpose, you may see a few as you stroll the gardens.
Check out these links to learn more about honey bees and honey:
The Healing Power of Honey - amazing article on the healing power of honey!
For more information on beekeeping, check out Bee Culture magazine
(Click small pictures above to enlarge)