Siouxland Stories: 100 years of sweetness, local honey producer still the bee’s knees

Siouxland Stories

(KCAU) — Honey is one of the few edible products in the world that doesn’t spoil, and there’s a Siouxland-based company that’s been turning out the product each and every day for a century.

“Started off with five bee keepers and $200 cash and 3,000 pounds of honey. They sold that, it grew and the rest is history.”

The company has 100 years under its belt and while a lot has changed in Siouxland, not much has changed inside the walls or bottles of Sioux Honey.

“There really isn’t too much to the process. It’s pure honey. It comes in from our beekeepers. We do have to blend it to get it to different flavor profiles and color profiles. But that’s the only ingredient.”
“It goes from the beekeeper to the bottle. That’s all it is.”

While the operation sounds fairly simple, the business model is unique.

“We’re a honey cooperative. We’ve got a little over 200 members, over 25 states. And they all produce honey and send it to us, for marketing. We package it here, and ship it out to customers.”

Much like a hive, the factory has designated areas to make things run as smoothly as possible designed for storage, processing and bottling.

But how does this honey producer get all their honey, since one bee can only turn out a fraction of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime?

“The Upper Great Plains are the biggest honey producing states — Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota. There’s just a lot of open prairie land in those states and not a lot of people.”
“We’ve got beekeepers from California to Washington State to down in Florida.”

And to get the raw product all the way to Sioux City, the honey is stored in drums or totes.

“Each drum is about 660 lbs. About 1,800 lbs in the small ones. In the big ones back there, about 2,800 lbs.”

“So this is where we dump the honey. It goes into an agitator. This is where we get that color profile, flavor profile and moisture profile that we’re looking for.”

Then the honey goes to the assembly line and finally, it hits the shelves in local grocery stores.

“So this is clover honey. It’s filtered but the main floral source is clover. The Aunt Sue’s raw and unfiltered is wildflower, and different floral sources to give it maybe a little stronger flavor than what you’re used to with the clover honey.”

“The darker the honey, the stronger flavor it’ll have.”

Even though the ingredient list is much shorter than most of what we eat, the product depends 100 percent on insects.

“Honey does not exist with the bee. The bee has to take it inside its body , add what the bee adds to it. Put it inside the hive. That’s when it ripens into honey. So honey does not exist until the bee puts it in the hive and changes it into what it is.”

The simplicity and longevity are the key ingredients to Sioux Honey’s success, with hardly any turnover on the board, beginning with the founders of the company.

“One of them was Ed Brown and he actually served as a chairman of the board from 1923 until 1971. So we’ve only had like 4 chairpersons of the board since the beginning.”

Even after 100 years, the product remains wholly unchanged.

“It’s a pure product. We feel we’ve served Sioux City well, and Sioux City’s served us. We hope to be here for another 100 years.”

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