Honey House Farms, Inc.*
Fifteen years ago, Clarence and Marge Herz visited Marge’s family in Wisconsin where her cousins are third generation beekeepers. After returning home, when Clarence told Marge they were going to start beekeeping, she “thought he was nuts” but believed in his vision. Clarence had a truck for sale which he traded for cash and bee hives. That was the beginning of something that evolved into a very successful honey business which consists of eighty percent wholesale sales. The remaining honey and all of the honey-related products are sold directly to the customers.
In the beginning, Clarence worked with longtime Clark County beekeeper Jim Wiemer who was his mentor until Wiemer’s retirement when Wiemer also sent many of his customers to Clarence. Sadly, Clarence died earlier this year, but their son, Steve, has “jumped in” to take care of some of what Clarence did and has added more to the business. Honey House Farms have always limited their business to family and one helper and do not seek commercial work; the customers find them. Honey House Farms sells to a large variety of customers including produce markets, feed stores, a dog food store, farmers markets, and health food stores.
The honey is all natural and local with two exceptions. They purchase coast wildflower honey for those customers who have a taste for that and have one eastern Washington honey supplier they occasionally use. All other honey is produced in southwest Washington area, primarily Clark County. Honey House Farms no longer keeps bees and uses as its chief supplier a local commercial beekeeper from whom they purchase honey by the barrel for processing.
Marge, who is Women’s Chairman for Clark Cowlitz Chapter of Washington Farm Bureau, said honey is a “great product, a perfect product, bacteria will not grow” in it. She said that everything from the hive is healthy, the propolis (called Russian penicillin), royal jelly, bee pollen, the honey and even the wax. Many people purchase the Ambrosia (one of Weimer’s recipes) believing it is helpful in fighting allergies.
When Honey House Farms started branching out into products, the first tried was sauces by daughter Karen. A local restaurant bought those first sauces and found customers were taking the containers of sauce so made arrangements to offer bottles for sale which was very successful. Jams were also tried and very popular. Then they started offering many other honey products as well as beeswax candles, soaps, jelly, syrups, lotions, etc. Marge said, “We have a lot of fun with the honey, the beeswax, anything that comes out of the hive ...” Marge’s favorite part of the business is the responses from the customers, everything is so welcomed with both the honey and the additional products. Customers have reported to her that they have sent honey and gifts to at least 46 states. Julie Wing, who works closely with Marge, also uses her clay-making skills for handmade bee-related gift items. Several times during the year, Honey House Farms, located in downtown Hockinson, has special events including an open house with a gift shop during the Christmas season. Visitors are welcome at prescheduled times; it is a working shop so call first if you would like to visit.
Honey House Farms, Inc.Marge Herz
* Email address updated October 2010.