Local farm provides unique product worldwide
Hens is the only person in North America recognized by the Federal Government as USDA organic. She produces USDA wild vegetation honeys in New York state and has more than 1,000 bee colonies in 11 counties — six in WNY and five in northern New York.
“I’m a one of a kind sort of thing,” said Hens. “The honey is based on the pollen and the nectar that I produce in the different ecosystems.”
All of her production is raw, organic state wild flower and tree honey. She has been organic since the day her business began.
Honey production is a career change for Hens. A Starpoint High School graduate, Hens became a teacher and a SUNY college professor, teaching outdoor education and environmental sciences.
She was hit by a drunk driver 25 years ago, nearly being killed. She said while doing rehabilitation for her injuries she began with one bee colony and her passion grew from there.
Now, Hens is one of the leading authorities in the world on organic apicultural, especially to do with health issues and organic health management of honeybees. She said she has been able to use the science and health background she had before and bring it into beekeeping.
“It keeps them healthy,” she said. “It’s based on model philosophy, ‘It’s all about the bees.’ Meeting their needs. Not trying to impose human standards on what they should be doing. I’m just a facilitator. I’m providing the resources that they need.”
According to Hens, bees produce honey because that is their food supply 12 months out of the year. She said then, if there are suitable conditions — which are going to be difficult this summer — she will harvest the surplus honey for human use.
With records heat, Hens said the weather is impacting businesses and insects worldwide.
“If there is no moisture and no rain there is no nectar in the vegetation,” she said. “There is no way for them to collect the sugars and the food components they need.”
She expects there to be “very little pollination compared to a usual year.”
Besides her own bee colonies, Hens is a bee specialist for Cornell Cooperative Extension. Based out of Niagara County, she serves all of Upstate New York and works with other beekeepers, growers and the public with anything to do with pollinating insects.
She does apiculture consulting on organic and conventional production and holds many educational presentations. She also is a wildlife rehabilitator and does trap and transfers of stinging insects — bees, wasps and hornets.
“I’m very proud of being an environmental responsible honey producer,” said Hens. “My bees are very well taken care of. Their health is of the upmost importance to me over honey production. In my opinion, if they are healthy they will produce honey.”
Hens Honey Bee Farm features 16 different varieties of honey. Some are the only ones in they world of that type and are made in liquid, cream and comb forms. Hens also makes handmade 100 percent organic bee wax candles.
She does not sell honey from her North Tonawanda farm but does direct sales to the public. She will ship worldwide.
She also attends many farmers markets around the area including Lancaster, Lockport, Clarence, Williamsville, the Elmwood market in Buffalo and Wheatfield. Her honey is also available at Farmers and Artisans in Williamsville.
To order honey or for more information contact Hens at 625-9322 or 439-0870 or visit henshoneybeefarm.com.