MARTINSVILLE — Tracy Hunter has one sweet gig.
“There’s no better honey than right out of your own bee hive,” Hunter told WRTV as he sampled the amber-colored liquid oozing from a honeycomb in his hands.
The third generation beekeeper is the owner of Hunter’s Honey Farm in Martinsville. While Hunter says most beekeepers are backyard beekeepers, Hunter’s Honey Farm is a commercial operation.
It's also one of several farms featured on the Farm-to-Table trail from the Indiana Foodways Alliance. The trail features nearly 30 orchards, markets and farms across the state.
Many of those stops have likely been visited by honeybees from Hunter's Honey Farm. Hunter's honeybees are used not only throughout the state, but around the country to pollenate everything from apples to watermelons.
“Without the honeybees, those crops would not have the yield that they are getting,” Hunter said. “Every third bite of food that you take today will require a honeybee. They do 80% of the insect pollination.”
While the honeybees work to pollinate crops, Hunter’s employees work just as hard at keeping its beehives healthy.
“We try to make sure that the honeybees are treated as naturally as possible,” Hunter said. The farm uses natural methods including the use of probiotics to keep the hives free of disease.
“We really need the public to help us with this,” Hunter said.
Hunter says Hoosiers can help honeybees in a number of ways. The first is by reducing the amount of pesticides they use in their own lawns and gardens. Additionally, Hunter says it is important for consumers to purchase produce that is free of pesticides. Planting native wildflowers can also help ensure a food supply for the honeybees.
With an ear-to-ear grin, Hunter’s final request is that Hoosiers support their local beekeepers.
“Buy honey only if they know the beekeeper's face.”
If you’d like to learn more about the honey-making process, Hunter’s is hosting its annual Honey Harvest Celebration on Saturday, Sept. 17, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 6501 W. Honey Lane in Martinsville.