Business is booming and buzzing for one metro-area farmer, especially this time of year. Beekeepers are getting ready to harvest honey for the spring, and at Pennington Farms in Pearl they are hoping for another record year.
Ten years ago Jim Pennington, owner and beekeeper of Pennington Farms probably never thought he'd follow in his father's footsteps, but right now he is doing just that.
"Never really had much to do with the business until a few years back," Pennington reflected. "You almost get obsessed with it as it grows."
There has been plenty to be obsessed with as the honey farm has grown. In 2009 Pennington took over the bee operation, his father John Pennington started in 1964.
Five years ago he had 50 hives. Now, he has more than 500. More hives means more honey.
"Last year we did about 80,000 pounds (of honey)."
Or, 6,600 gallons, which is well above their average of 5,500 gallons a year. They need every last drop to keep their customers buzzing.
"The demand is increasing every year," Pennington said. "We have to turn customers away, because we only have so much honey a year to supply to our core customers."
The 100 percent pure, all-natural sweetener makes local honey a super food and Pennington has seen demand for his bee's product skyrocket.
"It's health food and people are more health conscious," Pennington said. "These days the popularity of local honey increases two fold every year."
Working as an engineer Pennington cannot get it done all by himself. Of course, he has the bees working hard, but his children and wife Sandy are in on the action. Sandy Pennington has made it a full-time job.
"She's the business manager, the customer manager, she does all the bottling," Jim Pennington said.
Sandy is anticipating a busy next few weeks in the bottling department. And, as the honey is harvested in the next month they look forward to seeing just how busy these bees have been this season.