WESTVILLE | Northwest Indiana residents can now get some locally produced raw honey in LaPorte County.
“What’s unique about it and most important about it is that it’s local honey, technically Northwestern Indiana, which is good for allergies,” said Gobeez Honey co-owner, Virginia Lowry, who runs the home-based business with her husband, Jason Lowry. Virginia Lowry believes when people eat pollen they are allergic to, it builds up their immunity to the allergies.
The honey bee farmers also believe that what makes their honey different from other honey on the market is it is raw, bottled in sterilized glass jars, without additives or killing honey’s natural enzymes and vitamins.
“We thought that it was important for people to eat things that are good for them,” Virginia Lowry said.
The couple bottle their honey in raw form in sterilized jars in an unapproved Food and Drug Administration kitchen. Virginia said she is required by the FDA to note how Gobeez Honey processes its honey, because it is a home-based business. She also explained when honey crystallizes into sugar when it’s cold, the glass jars allow the honey to be easily reheated or whipped in the jars.
“All raw honey goes to sugar,” she said. “Raw honey never goes bad. It never spoils.”
The couple started bee farming four years ago at their Westville home, naming the business Gobeez Honey for their sons Gabriel and Oliver.
This is the first year they have had enough honey to sell in Michigan City at the Riverside Market and on Saturdays at the Mainstreet Association Farmer's Market at 8th and Washington streets.
”The reason it has taken us four years is we buy as we can and have not taken any loans from the bank,” Virginia said, noting their business is still small earning about $150 a week.
The couple hopes someday it will become their livelihood. “We put money into the frames and bees, and we buy bees every spring to grow more bees,” Virginia said.
The idea to farm bees originated about 10 years ago when Jason, a handyman, found a swarm of bees on his mother's property in Michigan while doing yard work.
He caught them, and was interested in why they swarmed and started reading about bees.
“We thought it was important to keep the bees alive and to educate people,” Virginia said.
Now they farm the bee hives in the field and they bottle the honey at home. They also make and sell candles, chap sticks and soap from prebought beeswax.
The operation of their bee farm allows the couple to extract enough honey for the business and to grow more bees.
“We never take too much honey from them to survive off of to feed their babies,” Virginia said. They give the bees back the drawn out wax honeycombs, so the bees can make more honey.
Farmers also hire Gobeez Honey to put hives in their fields to attract bees to pollinate crops. Without bees, trees and plants could die in three to four years, the couple said. Currently the hives are in a local pumpkin field expected to be harvested in September.
“This fall we will have pumpkin honey because the hives are in the middle of a pumpkin field,” Virginia said.