A Family Business
Phil Ebert began Ebert Honey in 1980 with only about ten colonies in the backyard of his Fairfield, Iowa home. At the time, one five-gallon bucket of honey seemed like a large amount. Once the honey was bottled, it was mainly sold from the house. What started out as a hobby later grew into a family business. Over the years, all four of Phil’s sons have worked in the honey business. Currently Phil and two sons, Adam and Alex, continue to build the business.
Today, Ebert Honey is centered around locations in Lynnville and Mount Vernon, Iowa. We maintain over 1000 beehives, and they no longer fit in the backyard. Our original steel building went up in 1996 to allow us to process, bottle, and store the honey. We gradually increased the number of hives as we increased honey production and sales. The five-gallon bucket increased to tens of thousands of pounds of honey sold annually. Most of the honey is sold to grocery stores, bakeries, breweries, and restaurants throughout central and eastern Iowa.
Honey production is at the heart of the business. Our hives are distributed in apiaries across the Iowa countryside. Most of them are only 35-40 miles away from our main locations. In Iowa the main floral sources are usually clovers. Clover honey has a light color and a pleasant sweet taste. There are three main varieties of clover that the bees gather their nectar from during the honey season. There is Dutch clover, yellow sweet clover, and white sweet clover. Clover flowers make a great tasting honey.
The honey flow in Iowa can begin as early as May. In most years the honey harvest begins in mid-July and lasts into August. Once the honeycomb is harvested it is brought back to our processing buildings to be extracted. The extracted honey is stored in 55 gallon drums until it is bottled. All of our filtering and bottling processes involve minimal heat. We want a quality product and do not want to damage the honey with overheating.
Ebert Honey can be found in many central and eastern Iowa grocery stores. While most of our honey is delivered to the Des Moines area, we also serve stores in towns that include Ankeny, Ames, Marshalltown, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City/Coralville, Oskaloosa, and Pella.
Every year we also produce honeycomb. This is the most natural honey you can get. It is still in the comb just like how the bees produced it. One of the highlights of our honeycomb production is sending hundreds of squares to the Iowa Honey Producers sales booth at the Iowa State Fair. Around one million people attend the fair each year.
Expanding the Business
In addition to a large expansion in honey production, we have also expanded into other honeybee products and services. Filtered and raw beeswax have grown in popularity over the last several years. Each April we sell package bees to people just getting started in beekeeping or replacing beehives lost during the winter. Adam has now opened up a second location east of Cedar Rapids near Mount Vernon. Alex and Adam pollinate local orchards each spring. These things keep Phil and everybody else very busy throughout the year, but the result is a very enjoyable family business.