I don’t think we realized how popular honey bees and honey products and natural products are.
In 2013 Cache Valley native Aubrey Johnson called her sister Gina Nielson and asked if she wanted a beehive. The two knew nothing about bees but thought buying a hive would be an exciting learning opportunity for their children. So they bought two hives, read some books, and watched some youtube videos to learn how to properly care for their bees. At the end of their first year of hive ownership Johnson and Nielson had an impressive haul of honey: 120 pounds. They posted a picture of the glorious golden goo on Facebook and were almost immediately bombarded with messages from friends and family requesting that Johnson and Nielson share the wealth.
So in 2014, following in the footsteps of their entrepreneur father, Johnson and Nielson decided to start selling their honey which offered them the opportunity to not only teach their children about beekeeping but about running a business as well. “We loved feeling like there was a way for us to involve our children,” Johnson says. Part of what the sisters have taught their children is the importance of budgeting, working hard, and controlling growth. “I don’t think we realized how popular honey bees and honey products and natural products are,” Johnson says. No matter how much honey they produce, Queen Farina sells out. “We didn’t realize how crazy it is,” she says regarding the natural food movement.
With information on food ingredients more widely available than ever before, consumers want their food to be as natural as possible. Queen Farina offers raw honey that is not only delicious, but useful for skin care, hair care, and cold remedies as well. “People are starting to see that this ancient food has so many health benefits,” Johnson says. She explains that honey never goes bad and can be stored for long-term use, which only adds to the appeal and the demand for Queen Farina honey.
The Queen Farina company currently keeps forty beehives, an impressive feat for the two sisters who also work as nurses and happen to be perfectionists when it comes to honey production. “Gina and I are very particular about how things are done,” Johnson says. “It has to be just right.” They want people to know that when the beautiful glass bottle of honey arrives on their doorstep it has been produced and bottled with love and care. “They get what they are paying for,” Johnson says.
The sisters recently started The Bee’s Kneeds Campaign to create a more sustainable future for honeybees. Backers can adopt a hive for $75 and choose a name for the hive’s queen bee. The chosen name is then inscribed on the hive and on either a three pound bottle of honey or a framed honeycomb, depending on the backer’s preference.
As for the name Johnson and Nielson chose for their business, Queen Farina pays tribute to their Italian mother and grandmother, the matriarchs of their very close family. “We always said that our mom is our queen bee,” Johnson says. Then adds, “I guess that means we are the worker bees.”