It’s hard to believe, but Bill and Louise Johnson are even busier than their bees. They have 350 hives spread over six counties, and they’re hoping to expand to 500 this year in order to keep up with the demand for their delicious honey. Currently they are hand-planing the honey from the honeycombs, but they want to acquire some mechanical extraction equipment to streamline the process.
Bill and Louise have been keeping bees since 1991. Louise’s grandfather was a beekeeper, but Bill got involved with bees as a 4-H project for his grandson and it took off from there. Now they sell their honey and other products at farmers’ markets five days a week during the summer. They have two types of raw honey: basswood and wildflower, as well as comb honey, and 18 flavors of creamed honey. They also incorporate the honey and wax into several special products, such as candy, candles, and wax blocks.
The Johnsons are very involved in promoting beekeeping in our region. They are active with the American Beekeeping Association and have been on the board of the Iowa Honey Producers Association for 15 years. They teach a six-week beekeeping course at NICC every January and also work with the Iowa Honey Queen.
The extremely cold weather we’ve had this winter can be hard on bees, but Bill isn’t sure if there’s been a lot of injury yet because the deep snow has prevented him from checking the hives. We hope the bees are healthy so we can continue to enjoy their honey throughout the next year. Thank you for being such faithful supporters of the Winter Market, Bill and Louise!