Here at BumbleBerry Farms, we take our lead from
the bees – one hive can collectively travel as many as 55,000 miles visiting more than two million flowers to
gather the nectar needed for one single pound of our Heritage Select Honey! With that same care and diligence, our honeycomb is hand-spun to gently release the sweet honey we offer up to you – bottled in vintage-inspired, cork-stoppered glass bottles.
We’re a small operation, located in the foothills of Pennsylvania’s Laurel Mountains, and as such, we craft everything ourselves in small batches. We hand-select the ingredients for our delectable honey-based spreads from a dairy farm and a maple sugar camp just down the road. Our skin care products are kept simple, using fair-trade, organic butters whenever we can get them…like our shea butter, which is harvested by women, the sole supporters of their communities in the Burkina Faso region of West Africa.
We are forever grateful to family and friends who have helped us along the way, lending their children for photo shoots, helping us in our festival booths, volunteering as testers for products in the making. With that same nod toward giving others a lift up, we follow their lead and offer
a Honey Bee Good jar of our yummiest nectar with profits benefitting a local charity. Currently we’re supporting Outdoor Odyssey at Roaring Run, a youth mentoring and leadership development program.
We hope you enjoy your BumbleBerry goods and that
you will do as we attempt to do:
Spread a little sweetness on the planet. Bee happy. TM
A: No, it was never something to which I aspired, but I’ve always been curious about the world and I’ve been gifted with strong, female role models throughout my life. While I grew up along the Connecticut seashore, I’d spend time nearly every summer at an aunt’s farmette in Bedford, Pennsylvania. My siblings and I would berry pick, chase her chickens around the yard, and eat vegetables that we’d just harvested that morning. I may not have appreciated the experience as much as I should have when I was younger, but I’ve come to respect all of the hard work that my aunt Evelyn put in to living off of the land. I think of her from time to time when I’m out working the bees.
A: I’d read an article in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette about ‘Burgh Bees, a Pittsburgh-based beekeeper’s association that was trying to encourage people to take a class, learn the craft, and tend a couple of hives — all in an effort to build the diminishing honeybee population. I took the course, bought a couple of colonies from an airline pilot/beekeeper in the city, and was hooked! They are such fascinating creatures!
A: Oddly enough, it came to me in a dream about three years before I actually became a beekeeper. I woke up with the words “BumbleBerry Apiary Heritage Select Honeys” swimming through my brain. I like to write my dreams down because they sometimes become inspiration to me when I write poetry or short stories. So naturally when I decided to start my business, I grabbed my dream journal and rediscovered the name. I later changed “Apiary” to “Farms” because few people seemed to know what an apiary is.
A: There is no typical day or week, but because I craft everything myself by hand and to order, I’ve been getting into a rhythm of keeping Monday and Tuesday as production days for honey, crèmes, or my skin care products. Wednesday has become a shipping day for me, Thursdays are delivery days for local businesses, and Friday is my development day where I search for new accounts, concoct new products, investigate new ingredients suppliers, and write my blog entries for the coming week. On Saturday, I’m doing some seasonal farmer’s markets and working with the bees as needed. Sunday is my day to relax and reflect on how blessed I am.
A: Yes! Running a start-up business means that I wear many hats, from working with the bees to harvesting the honey, choosing the packaging designs, writing web copy, making sales calls, bottling honey and labeling jars, packaging everything up and shipping it out to customers online and in retail stores around the country.
A: Knowing that I’m playing a small part in keeping the honeybee population going — whether through beekeeping or educating others about bees — is very satisfying. I also get a kick out of the expressions of people who taste my honey or crème spreads for the first time. While exhibiting at a New York City tea festival recently, a woman told me that she wanted to jump into my Salted Honey Caramel Crème and live there! That’s pretty great to hear.
A: Yes, they find it unusual that a woman does it, though there are more women entering this craft than ever before.
The most frequently asked question is “How many times have you been stung?” I’ve lost count, but my honey bees, which are naturally not aggressive, have been conditioned to my presence. I’ve learned a trick from a local Amish friend…tap on the hive three times on the right. Wait. Then tap three times on the left. Wait. Enter the hive. What I’ve discovered is that after a while, they’ve learned it’s me and that I’m just noodling around a bit. I’m discovered that I don’t really need to use a smoker very often (because bees communicate via pheromones, the smoke disrupts their communication system by masking the alarm pheromone).
A: Hmmmm….I love to bottle my honey because I think the amber color is just beautiful in the light…but my bees make that, not me. I think I most enjoy crafting the Sweet Feet Lotion Bars because I know how well they work to heal my customers’ dry, cracked feet, plus the zinnia and sunflower shapes are happy-making.
A: Without hesitation, I’d choose my daughter, Caitlin. She lives in the Washington, DC, area now, but when she’s visiting, she enjoys coming out to the beeyard with me. She is intrepid and a natural at it. Once, when she was about four, she told me that she wanted to go to Heaven because she would like to pet a bee without the bee stinging her. “They look so soft,” she mused.
A: I suppose I should say golden honey, but I love all of the hues and subtleties of the colors of the ocean…azure blue, emerald green, and turquoise <sigh>. I suppose that comes from my early life along the seashore.
A: There is absolutely nothing better than sinking my teeth into honeycomb that I’ve just taken in from the apiary. As far as manners go, all bets are off…if you don’t have honey oozing down your chin and sticking to your fingers, you’re just not getting the full experience!
A: I love to lie down in the beeyard on a summer day, directly under a hive and watch the busy bees flit and dance about. There’s something very mesmerizing about that. I also like to hike at day’s end in the fields surrounding my home with my husband and two dogs, Finn and Tillie.
A: My husband and I enjoy ending our workday with a good soak in our hot tub. After a shared meal, we might play a
game of bocce with neighborhood friends, take our kayaks to a nearby lake, or hit the hills for a hike with our dogs. It’s the simple things that mean the most to us.
A: Straight from the King and Queen:
Karen: “Jeff and I were high school sweethearts, and we’ve been married for almost three decades now so he’s pretty used to seeing where my curiosity leads. As each new year begins, I make the same resolution — to learn something new. Sometimes, the journey is mine…like when I traveled to Bali to learn to surf, but often, he’s involved
too like when we learned to play bocce, built a court, and started an annual tournament with friends. Either way, his
support is steadfast.”
Jeff: “I thought you were crazy. Here we go again…another one of your phases. Only I think this one is taking up more time than any of them. Whatever.”