Defiance, Iowa — Smitty Bee Honey is proving they haven’t lost touch with the activities that led to the beginning of their now nationally recognized business. The company recently purchased 10 colonies of bees to raise just as General Manager Tony Schmitz’s great-grandfather did nearly a century ago, continuing a legacy that remains important to the family-run operation.
Managing the Smitty Bee colonies is owner Doug Schmitz, a man who has been around honey production for decades. Doug, father of General Manager Tony Schmitz, checks the health of the bees, particularly the colony queens, at least once per week at their bee field just a few miles from Smitty Bee headquarters in Defiance, IA. When appropriate, he also rotates the honey frames to ensure the bees continue filling each section with honeycomb. While Smitty Bee’s expanding honey packing business demands the majority of their time, the Schmitz family appreciates the opportunity to be hands-on with bees and honey production again.
“We may have grown at Smitty Bee,” says Tony Schmitz, “but raising a few colonies of our own honey bees brings our 90 years of honey producing heritage back into focus. It reminds us about our company’s roots and founding principles, as well as how precious bees are and how hard it can be to produce just one pound of high quality honey.”
Honey production continues to face environmental challenges, including the threat of colony collapse disorder which may have affected four of Smitty Bee’s ten colonies this season. However, the news of a good honey crop this year is creating a positive buzz after flooding in western Iowa in 2011 followed by drought in 2012.