By Jessie Duran Student journalist
Wild at Heart Bees, locally owned by Tom and Pam Turner, started their business in 2017. Tom and his family build everything from bee boxes to picture frames. Their son, Trey, builds the boxes and daughter-in-law, Amber, wires the box frames. Last winter, 1,500 frames were made to allow the establishment of 150 hives. Most of the wood is purchased from St. John Lumber. Tom showed a frame filled with honey and explained that a frame weighs about 10 pounds before harvest. Wild at Heart Bees started with 10 hives in 2017 and they have grown to the 150 hives that are currently out.
When asked what it was like to manage bees, Pam replied that coexistence is important. Deer hunting land and pasture are good for bees, and Tom manages the hunting ground, so there are plenty of opportunities for large land. Tom himself said that bees are like cattle. He explained that the four most important elements in bee management are pollen, nectar, plenty of water and a hive or house. Bees need protein from pollen, and pollen is essential for raising baby bees. During the winter months, the bees slow down and sleep. Tom explained that they made insulated hives to keep the bees warm and he added that it is very important to use chemical free wood.
Products offered by Wild at Heart Bees include pure honey, unique beehives and native Kansas bees. Their products can be purchased the third Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 206 N. Main Street in St. John. In addition to products, beekeeping services such as hive customization and bee pollination assistance are also provided. Tom can be contacted regarding beekeeping services through the website, https://wildatheatbees.net/.
Wild at Heart Bees held a Pollinator Day last year to show and educate how they set up bee habitat. Participants came from states such as North Carolina, Minnesota, Colorado, Nebraska and Oklahoma. Tom and Pam brought people from all over St. John to see how Tom runs his business and buys bees.
The Turners said that in 2012 there was a bee bust due to varroa mites. Turner’s bees are unique in that they are not treated against mites with chemicals and are all naturally fed. Wild at Heart Honey is raw, unprocessed or pasteurized honey. Raw honey is harvested in four stages. First, the corks are scraped over the honeycomb. Second, the honey is removed from the honeycomb by a rotary centrifuge. Third, the honey is strained to remove any wax and stored in buckets. Finally, the honey is put in jars and ready to be sold.