ST. JOHN — It all started years ago when Tom Turner’s mother wouldn’t let him grow bees for 4-H. Now, Tuner and business partner Jorge Garibay own a thriving bee business based out of St. John.
Wild@Heart, 206 North Main in St. John, is the result of that partnership. For now, the store, where excess honey is sold, is only open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the third Saturday of every month, but, as the business expands, so could the hours, Turner said.
Turner and his daughter, Amber Turner who runs the store, have honey for sale in a variety of flavors plus spun and comb honey. But the main focus of this new business is selling hives and bees.
The response to the new business has been positive.
“There’s a lot of interest,” Turner said.
Turner said he was always interested in bees and that interest continued to grow even though is mother wouldn’t let him have bees in 4-H.
Turner’s wife, Pam, retired from teaching at a college and he encouraged her to get involved and work with him on this business project.
“It would be a hobby we could do together,” Turner said.
Turner wanted to sell bees, honey and hives. So he started researching and got an experience he didn’t expect. He looked for bees for sale in Kansas but couldn’t find any.
“I went to buy bees, but there were not bees for sale,” Turner said.
And that wasn’t just Kansas. He couldn’t find bees for sale anywhere except in California and Georgia.
The lack of bees for sale in Kansas or any place near Kansas got Turner to thinking he could take advantage of this situation.
“Maybe this is an opportunity here,” Turner said.
So he started on a quest to get information, including seminars and to Michael Bush’s bee camp in Nebraska. He met Bush’s intern Jorge Garibay. Turner shared his business dream with Garibay. Garibay took care of his college’s bees and grew up in Napa Valley, so he had an background working with bees.
Garibay had moved from California to south of Omaha, Neb., then to St. John to start this business with Turner.
They formed Wild@Heart and began raising bees, producing hives and selling honey. They have their own equipment, a lot of it experimental, including hives, as they work on a number of bee related projects.
“We’re doing a lot of experimenting,” Turner said.
Turner said they are raising bees without chemicals and allowing the bees to develop their own queens, which is helping the bees survive. The goal of the business is to supply bees, hives, honey and provide and educational experience for people who want to keep bees.
Hives for the business are scattered across Stafford, Reno and Edwards counties, Turner said. Honey is collected depending on the flow in each hive. The hives are located next to cotton, soybean and alfalfa fields. To provide a constant source of flowering plants, Turner said they plant a mixture of things, including clover and sunflowers and asters and canola. The planted areas are from 5 to 10 acres and are necessary for their business.
“It guarantees there will be food source if there is a shortage,” Turner said. “We have to leave enough for them for the winter.”
They can be reached through their website or on Facebook for those wanting honey. Or contact Turner at 620-546-3433 or his business partner Jorge Garibay at 620-352-1763.