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Local beekeeper expands operation and educates public about the importance of bees

by: SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: ROBIN JOHNSON - Glen Heifort, owner of Bee Sweet Honeys, said he currently has 15 hives in operation, but plans to gradually expand his business and fill all 60 of his hives. Glen Heifort, owner of Bee Sweet Honeys, has been running his beekeeping operation in Scappoose since 2009.

Heifort said before he started keeping bees, the apple trees on his property would produce about five apples per year. After he brought the bees in, Heifort said his apple trees were “so loaded that the branches were breaking” the following fall season.

Over the past four years Heifort’s business has grown through the Scappoose Farmers’ Market where he sells a variety of honeys and value-added products, such as beeswax candles, honey comb, lip balm, moisturizing creams and bee pollen.

Now, Heifort is hoping to broaden his market base through the the Internet.

“I get a lot of visits through the website, but it hasn’t been real, real busy, not as busy as I want,” Heifort said.

Heifort has taken a break from the market to build his website, which he put together completely by himself.

“I didn’t pay anyone to do that. Everyone who’s looked at it has said they really like it,” he said. “Once you get your name out there, you stand to make a lot of money.”

Heifort added that, even with the new website running, he will be at the Scappoose Farmers’ Market for the rest of the year.

“I enjoy being at the market and talking to people face to face,” he said.

Part of Heifort’s focus with the business, he said, is to educate people on the important role bees play in agriculture. “A lot of [the business’ purpose] is to spread awareness about the situation of bees and provide a product that isn’t filled with corn syrup,” he said. “And it’s local.”

Heifort said people are just coming to realize the importance of bees, highlighting the recent discovery that certain pesticides are to blame for colony collapse disorder.

In June, trees planted around a parking lot in Wilsonville were sprayed with neonicotinoid-type pesticides, resulting in the death of more than 25,000 bumblebees. Neonicotinoid-based pesticides can be found under a variety of brand name products.

“The pesticides have been banned in Australia and Europe,” Heifort said. “Now, herbicide and pesticide companies are trying to win the favor of the beekeepers; developing a pesticide that won’t hurt bees. People are just starting to realize the importance of bees. Without them, we would only last about four years unless you pollinate everything by hand with a feather.”

Heifort currently has 15 hives in operation and plans to continue selling his products at the Scappoose Farmers’ Market throughout the rest of the season.

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