SALIDA, Colo. — Salida is home to the oldest honey company in Colorado. People swarm to The Beekeeper’s Honey Boutique downtown for the golden goodness.
“We’re 114 years old today! We look good. It’s all the honey and bee stings,” owner Jamie Johnston said.
Her great grandfather Walter started the family business in 1908 in Fort Lupton, Colo. Back then, Johnston said he had hives in his yard.
Johnston says the Colorado Department of Health once said that her grandfather Arthur had “one of the cleanest operations in the state.”
People drove from all corners of Colorado and beyond, just to buy his honey. Even President John F. Kennedy couldn’t resist and made a stop to purchase some in 1972.
Now, Jamie Johnston is the first woman beekeeper in her family hive, having moved the bees to Salida in 2000.
“It’s a good bee area,” Johnston said. “A lot of the farmers there don’t use really bad pesticides or anything, so the bees thrive and do well there.”
During the winter months, the bees travel to California to pollinate almond and orange orchards. Johnston’s father, Lyle is the brains behind the pollination. At one time, he ran just under 4,000 hives across 10 different states. Now, he contributes 50-60,000 hives to almond pollination every year from beekeepers around the country.
Johnston says getting stung just comes with the territory.
“Hey, I never have to get Botox,” Johnston said, laughing.
Jamie said she wanted to have a shop where customers could watch the love that goes into their sweet products.
“When they come in and shop and buy honey most likely we will be in there extracting the honey and harvesting it, and they can watch it through the glass window where the honey will go from the frame to the jar. We pour our candles in there, soaps, and lotions,” Johnston said. “I think it means a lot more to people when they can see where their products are coming from, and they can see that they are being made with a lot of love.”
The Beekeeper’s Honey Boutique typically has nine to 10 different varieties of honey, but the shop has much more to try.
“We can suggest things, but we also just to let people taste and let their imagination run wild that way and a lot of times people will come up with their own ideas for different things,” Johnston said.
Their one-of-a-kind honey is all the buzz around town.
“We’ve had a couple of the workers at Safeway say people go up and ask them what aisle the honey is in, and they tell them across the street. So, that helps out too,” Johnston said.
It’s been her childhood dream to continue the family legacy, a devotion to bees they hope to keep passing on to generations to come.
“I love what I do, I love all the different aspects of it,” Johnston said. “I love being out here and doing the pollination. I love being able to sell cute products in the store. I love going out and doing the summer harvest and taking care of the bees – I think it’s really important to do that. I love working outside and I’m just really proud about my family business.”
In the summer during harvest, the boutique allows people to bring their own jars to fill up with the golden goodness straight from their tanks, so they don’t have to pay for the packaging.
The Beekeepers Honey Boutique is located at 209 W 3rd St, Salida, CO 81201.