Shoppers at this year’s Food Hub Fridays may be experiencing a buzz when they visit several vendors’ tables.
Beekeepers known for their local honey have been a major anchor for this year’s Farmers Market that is held every Friday on East Center Street from 4-7 p.m. For the area’s honey makers, business couldn’t be sweeter.
Honey begins as flower nectar collected by bees and is naturally broken down into simple sugars and stored in honeycombs. The honeycomb’s unique design coupled with constant fanning by the bees’ wings causes evaporation to take place, creating the thick, sweet liquid we know as honey.
Michael Hamerski has developed his operation since he and his wife, Louise, moved to Churchill County seven years ago and purchased property with fruit trees.
“This year we finally got some fruit … bees on the property and fruit on the trees,” he said with a smile.
The Hamerskis have been selling honey for five years. He said one of their most popular types of honey — which sells out quickly — comes from the fruit of the Russian olive tree,
Not only does Michael Hamerski grow fruit and harvest honey but he also educates the public on honeybees and the consumption of local honey, all courtesy of a $7,600 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant he received. He said the grant has allowed him to teach 40 Churchill County High School students about beekeeping and prompting honeybees. He also taught 15 Pyramid Lake High School students about backyard beekeeping.
Because of several years of drought, Michael Hamerski’s sales have been mostly at local venue such as farmers markets the Cantaloupe Festival and at the Food Hub.
“We sold out at the Food Hub,” he said, “and we don’t have enough to sell at other businesses.”
Next to the Hamerski’s tent sat Marshall Coverston and his grandmother. Coverston, who graduated in May from CCHS, find a niche in beekeeping and making honey.
“I wanted to keep bees last spring and got in to it,” he said.
Coverston, who keeps his bees at his parent’s house on Solias Road, said the bees then suck out the sweetness from the sagebrush and alfalfa.
Coverston said his plan is to sell at farmers markets and at the Food Hub.
Since Coverston earned his high-school degree and two years of college credit from Western Nevada College because of the Jump Start program, he has decided to market his honey, First Fruits Sustainable Farms, fulltime.
The dean of the local honey production is Jon Rau and his son, Josh. They have been selling honey at Just Country Friends and several other businesses in Fallon. This is their first year at Food Hub Fridays.
“This year we’re starting with the farmers market and then we’ll working in to Reno and Carson City,” said Jon Rau. “We’re in a good position (in Fallon) and in the future we’ll bring a few other product from the hives such as lotion bars.”
The Raus also said they would like to bring an observation hive to show how the bees make the honey Jon Rau said he’ll bring anything “bee-related” to the farmers markets.
Josh Rau and his father are following their instincts. When the economy unraveled in 2008-2009, Josh suggested to his father they become beekeepers.
“Since I was a kid, I wanted to start a couple of hives, and it turned out more than that,” he said.
In addition to keeping beehives, Jon Rau they also do custom pollination. He said they are pollinating for several customers in the Lahontan Valley and two in Mason Valley near Yerington.
The production is keeping them buzzing, though.
“We have 65 locations in the Mason Valley for honey production, and we do a lot of pollination in the Lahontan Valley.”
Jon Rau said they have 125 locations for honey production.
While the Reus, Hamerskis and Covers ton are busy at their craft, Jon Rau said he is just as excited for them to be selling their honey in front of the Food Hub.
“We’re happy to be back downtown,” he said.