Small Business Saturday, Featuring Hepplewhite Farms
We first met Tracey and David Grimme of Hepplewhite Farms at a local Katy Farmers Market last Fall. Anytime there’s a stand with honey, we are there! After seeing a recent documentary on the honey industry and how most honey on the grocery store shelves are, well, questionable, we’re committed to supporting the businesses who are doing it right and producing products we can trust.
About none miles west of Katy, between Fulshear and Brookshire, sits Hepplewhite Farms, where Tracey and David took a passion and hobby and turned it into a business.
For them, making and sharing honey with the community is one of their biggest life pleasures. The smiling faces they meet at local farmers markets and repeat customers they’ve had since the beginning are what keeps their passion for beekeeping burning. From their amazing honey to their all-natural lip balm made with beeswax and essential oils, to are are customers ourselves for life! Tracey and David are just salt of the earth humans and we’re so excited to feature their business today!
Where are you from originally and how long have you lived in Katy?
We are both originally from Nebraska. After college Dave’s job took us to Wyoming and Louisiana, before coming to Katy, Texas in 2001. In 2012 after our kids were out of college we moved to the country west of Katy.
Are you two parents yourself? If so, how many kids do you have and how old are they?
We have three children and we are expecting our 6th grandchild in May. Our oldest Ben (33) and his wife Amy live in the Cypress, Texas with their 3 girls (ages 9,6,5). Our daughter Sarah (31) and he husband Cody are in Little Rock, Arkansas with their 2 boys (ages 5 and 18 months) Our youngest Rachel (28) and her husband Max are excepting their first child and live in Temple, TX.
Tell us a little about beekeeping and Hepplewhite Farms! When did you set out on this adventure?
We started beekeeping almost about 7 years ago when Dave suggested we get a few hives for our property. At first beekeeping was his hobby and I was the assistant beekeeper. But as we started to expand and I became more comfortable I found I love these amazing creatures. Now I look forward to every opportunity to work in the bee yard.
Basically, beekeeping is taking care of the honeybee colonies so that the beekeeper can reach desired objectives such as honey production, pollination services, or selling bees. For us that means we work to make sure our bee colonies are healthy and large enough during the high points of the nectar flows so that the maximum amount of nectar is collected and made into honey.
Knowing what plants are in our area and when they bloom helps us in preparing our colonies to be ready for the different nectar flows from April to October. Also as a beekeeper we have to become familiar with honeybee biology; their natural instincts, their life cycle, and honeybee diseases so we can be successful in caring for our bees. Beekeeping can be extremely hard work but it is truly a rewarding job.
Where is the land where you raise bees and call Hepplewhite Farms?
Hepplewhite Farms is located between Brookshire and Fulshear, Texas. We are about 9 miles west of Katy. The name Hepplewhite Farms came from the name of our street and our logo was designed by our daughter Sarah.
What makes your honey unique and is your process different from the rest in how you harvest the honey?
Our honey has a unique flavor due to the wide variety of plants within the 3-5 mile radius of our hives. According to the pollen analyses, our honey is classified as a mixed floral or a multi-floral honey. This means that there is not one dominate flower source that our bees visit throughout the year. One of the things we do to keep the consistency of the flavor of our honey the same throughout the year is to mix spring, summer, and fall honey to together. This also provides a pollen source for the whole season in each jar of honey.
Harvesting honey is the basically the same everywhere with the major differences being the type of equipment you use to extract the honey. We use a de-capping machine that uses two hot sharp knives to cut off the wax cappings on both sides of each frame of honey. This allows the honey to easily flow out of the cells when placed in the extractor. The extractor is a spinning device that uses centrifugal force to pull the honey out of the cells and onto the inside wall of the extractor. We use a basic filter to clear the honey of larger pieces of wax and debry that might fall out of in the extractor. By not using micro filters and high heat we leave more of the pollen, antibacterial properties, and just plain goodness in our honey.
What’s something you can tell us about bees that’s unique and how many do you have making honey for you?
There are so many things about bees that are unique so I had to list a few fun facts about honey bees.
- The average honey bee will make only 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in her six weeks lifetime.
- The queen bee can live up to 5 years and can lay up to 2,500 eggs a day.
- The male honey bee or drone does not do any work and doesn’t have a stinger His only job is to mate with the queen. In the fall drones are pushed out of the hive to conserve resources through the winter.
- Honey bees communicate with each other through vibrations and each colony has a unique odor for member identification.
- The honeybee is the only insect that produces food eaten by man.
Each hive has a colony of bees that consists of 20,000 – 60,000 honey bees and one queen. We have over 40 hives so in the summer when the colonies are the biggest we have quite a few bees making honey.
What’s your favorite thing about living in the country?
Besides the quiet and extra space, being outdoors more often with our bees makes country life extra special.
People are starting to be more mindful of that some of the honey on the grocery store shelves, aren’t living up to the standard we want for our family. Why do you think this is important to pay attention to?
There is bigger demand than supply of honey in the United States. To meet this demand shortfall, honey is imported. Much of what is brought into the United States has been altered with fillers. This honey is often treated with high heat to remove the pollen indicators making it impossible to trace the original source of the honey.
So, with that being said, the best way to know where you honey is coming from is to know your beekeeper.
In the state of Texas, we have a program called “Real Texas Honey”. It is a non-profit organization that promotes honey 100% produced by honey bees in Texas. Participants must meet strict program requirements to ensure that the honey they sell displaying the Real Texas Honey seal is pure, unadulterated honey made by honey bees in Texas. We are proud to be a part of this program.
When you can’t get a jar of local honey, the next best thing is to find a bottle of honey that is labeled “True Source Certified”. This organization provides the commercial beekeepers with a neutral third-party company that traces the origin of their honey back to the original beekeepers thus providing a trail of pure honey to your table.
Besides your delicious honey, you also sell other products make with beeswax- what are some of your favorites?
Our two favorite beeswax products are our lip balms and body creams. They are made with high quality oils and our pure beeswax. During the winter months and as well in the summer, the creams keep your skin soft and smooth.
We have also expanded our honey line with creamed honey, honey pecans, and cinnamon honey. Creamed or “whipped” honey as they call it up North, is honey that has been processed to a fine crystal that is spreadable. It stays in its creamed state and you store it at room temperature.
Being a business owner and entrepreneur is hard work, what made you want to dive into it?
For us it started out as a small hobby with a few hives where we could share our honey with family and friends. After a couple years, the demand for our honey plus the fact that we had expanded the number of hives helped us make the decision to officially open a business. It has been a growing process and we have learned so much about running a business but it is all worthwhile when we see people enjoying our honey and coming back for more.
Besides selling online, where else can people get your products?
We hope to have our online store up and running within a few months. Right now, we are selling our products through local farmers markets and craft markets in the Katy and West Houston area. Our regular market is the Fulshear Farmers Market on the 2nd Saturday of each month. Starting in March we will be at the Katy Market Days on the 3rd Saturday of the month. We have a complete listing of where and when we will be selling on our website at www.hepplewhitefarms.com
We bet you meet so many amazing people at the local farmers markets! What’s your favorite thing about having a booth at these?
Our favorite thing about the market it the people. We love meeting the families that make up our community. Plus, it is fun to share facts about bees and honey and see the smiles on our customers faces as they taste our honey products.
Why do you think it’s important to support local, shop small, and support local farmers in our area?
Small businesses are what make a community unique and are the backbone to our country’s economy. When you shop a small business, you know you are getting high quality products and services because the owners take pride in providing you with the best. This is so important when you are looking for farm fresh food for your family. You want to know where your food is coming from and who is handling it. I think it is the same for all small business owners. We love what we do and the products we provide for our customers.
What’s your favorite thing about being a business owner in the Katy area?
We get to share our honey with friends that we have known for years along with the new friends we have made on this journey.
How has the Katy community impacted your business?
Because we have lived in the Katy area for almost 18 years, we have formed a bond with the community. This is where our children went to school and graduated from high school. We have many deep friendships here through church, neighborhoods, and work. It is our home. This bond has helped us build our business in our town and we are proud to be serving the Katy community.
Greatest joy about giving people quality honey?
We love seeing the joy on people’s faces when they taste our honey. Their eyes brighten. The best part is when a non-honey person tries real honey products they have never tasted before. It is amazing to hear their comments on how incredibly good it tastes.
Future plans for your business?
In March, we are expanding our flavored creamed honey by adding Strawberry Cream Honey and Lemon Creamed Honey. In the future, we plan on expanding our business buy selling bees and queens and along with opening a Meadery. (Mead is wine made from honey.
Any current discounts our Katy Moms can look out for?
Through March 2019, if they mentioned they saw this Small Business Saturday posting on Katy Mom’s Network, we will give them a 10% discount on their total order. Also, we have a few Valentine’s Day gift baskets still available.
For more info on Hepplewhite Farms and their amazing products, be sure to visit their website and give them a follow on social media!
Facebook & Instagram: @hepplewhitefarms
Hepplewhite Farms is registered with the Texas Apiary Inspection Services. David and Tracey are members of the Fort Bend Beekeepers Association, Texas Beekeepers Association, American Beekeeping Federation, and the American Honey Producers Association. We are also part of the Real Texas Honey program.