Wild Bee Honey Farm is a second-generation company founded in 1966. We maintain 500-600 colonies of bees, although the number of hives varies seasonally. The Oregon Bee Store, which was open for 10 years, from 2012-2022, was an offshoot and extension of the original Wild Bee Honey Farm.
In the interests of downsizing and being able to focus on what we do best, we sold the 6.3 acre parcel in 2022 which housed the Oregon Bee Store. Reviving the original self-serve concept, in 2023, the Curtis Family moved the smaller Bee Barn to the other side of the driveway and welcomes you! We are on the same driveway as the former Oregon Bee Store, just look to the left, instead of the right!
Morris Curtis, who passed on in 2016 at the age of 87, the founder of the company, told the story:
“In the middle ’60’s, there was a great movement of people to the mountains in our area. They were called hippies and they loved raw honey. So that’s what I produced. Since these people liked wild things, I called my outfit Wild Bee Honey Farm. Everybody loved the name. Bees reproduce by the old queen taking the field force of worker bees with her to start a new hive somewhere else. Lots of people catch swarms to start new hives. That’s what I did when I got started. My youngest son Mike kept bees with me all the time while going to school and to trade school. In 1995 I retired from the business and he runs the outfit. We’re still producing raw honey. Honey heated over 110 degrees Fahrenheit is no longer raw honey. So we use low heat in our extracting and bottling processes. Extracting is when you take frames of honey out of the hive, cut off the caps with a hot sharp knife and put the frames into a special machine called an extractor. It spins the frames around causing the honey to come out of the comb. Sometimes the bees eat up all of their honey then you can help them stay alive by feeding them special sugar or sugar syrup.”
Mike, the current beekeeper, tells his story:
“My father Morris Curtis started the business and I became a full-time beekeeper at age 19 after 2 years of trade school. At one time we took our bees to California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. Now we stay in Oregon and California. I still have to do a lot more driving than I would like, delivering the bees to almond orchards in early Spring to Northern and Central California. But I still enjoy it. The trees are breathtakingly beautiful when they are in bloom. In 1995, Angelika joined me in marriage and we have worked together all these years. We have a son, Daniel, and daughter, Rachel, who are both in their 20’s, who have been exposed to farming, beekeeping and selling at festivals their whole lives, but have now decided to pursue other interests, and that is fine with us.
We try to keep our different honeys separate so they are as close as possible to the pure variety of plant the bees are collecting from. Sometimes it is impossible to do that because far too many plants are blooming at the same time so we give them a more generic name like Wildflower or Spring Blossom.”
Now after all these years of “making do” in my Honey House (extracting and bottling plant), I am so excited because in 2023 we remodeled the old building completely so now everything is brand-spanking new and sparkling. We also have a brand-new kitchen area as well! It makes it so much easier and more pleasant to do my work. There is even climate control. No more freezing in winter and broiling in summer, while extracting and bottling honey!
Angelika tells the story:
“When I first met Mike and he told me he kept bees, I was a city girl so I really never thought of such a profession, but it seemed mighty interesting. I drove with him a couple times on day trips to pick up equipment, etc., but I found out most of the driving is at night because the bees have to be at home in their box when you move them. I am partially sighted so driving long distances at night is not for me, so I let Mike do that!
A year after we were married, I was laid off from my job in the construction industry so I started helping with the bee business. Around the same time, my mother-in-law had decided she wanted to go to the Grower’s Market and sell honey there, but it was somewhat slow so she discontinued doing it. I thought I’d try to expand this bare-bones business with a ton of potential, and see what I could make of it. At that time, we were only selling honey from the original self-serve stand at our house and we didn’t have a label to speak of. There was a paper label that came in white and fluorescent orange with the outline of the State of Oregon on it and not much else. After attending the Grower’s Market in the Rogue Valley consistently, sales started improving, so we designed a pretty new label for the honey. The view of the mountain is what we see from our house.
We started trying to make more and more varietal honeys to give our customers a choice. Now we can offer anywhere from 3 to upwards of half a dozen types, depending on the time of year. I also developed infused honeys, such as Lavender, Ginger and Autumn Spice, and researched Herbal Honeys for health and healing. I also make jams and salves when I have time and the inspiration.
I’d always made a few candles, more as a hobby than anything else. In late 2006-early 2007, I decided to try really getting into the candle business and building up my assortment. I purchased some molds but more than that I learned to make custom molds so I can pretty much make a candle out of anything I want. I started selling online in 2008 because before that, all we had out here was a dial-up internet connection, which didn’t work for e-commerce, obviously. But eventually with broadband connectivity, we were able to open our own website and shops on Etsy and Amazon Handmade. I believe I have one of the largest assortment of beeswax candles on the web. I know many of my designs have been copied. Ah, well, I guess imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. In 2023, I was fortunate enough to get a lovely new Candle Studio on the property which is so light, bright and roomy, it really stimulates my creativity. All in all, It’s a full life!”