A Family Business
Phil Ebert began Ebert Honey in 1980 with less than ten colonies in the backyard of his home near Fairfield, Iowa. 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 worked in the honey business as they grew up. 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 produce around 100,000 pounds of honey per year, and the beehives 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 directly to grocery stores, bakeries, breweries, and restaurants throughout central and eastern Iowa. Online and phone orders, including bucket and barrel quantities, can be shipped nationally.
Honey production is at the heart of the business. Our hives are distributed in apiaries across the Iowa countryside. Most of them are within 35-40 miles of our main locations. In Iowa the main floral sources are especially clovers, though there are many other floral sources that contribute to the crop. 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 through 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 Ames, Ankeny, Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City/Coralville, Marshalltown, Oskaloosa, Pella, and Waterloo. More detail on places that sell or use our products is on this map (click here).
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 unfiltered beeswax have both grown in popularity over the last several years. Every spring we sell package bees and nucs to people just getting started in beekeeping or replacing beehives lost during the winter. Several years ago, Adam developed a second location east of Cedar Rapids near Mount Vernon. Alex and Adam both pollinate local orchards each spring. These ventures keep Phil and everybody else very busy throughout the year, but the result is a very enjoyable family business.