Legacy of Heyworth honey harvesters sparks education, awareness

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HEYWORTH, Ill. (WMBD) — With a beekeeping suit and a lot of bravery, Amber Rutledge takes on each day at her Heyworth honey farm. 

“It started with my great-grandfather. We think it was in the late ’40s, maybe ’50s when he first got started in bees. Maybe a little bit before then,” said Rutledge, the co-owner of Wild Harvest Honey Farm.

It’s a fifth-generation family business. 

“We really just wanted to bring the life back to the farm in a way that not only helped the environment, but honored him as well,” she said.

Rutledge and her sister, Alicia Bunting are the co-owners. They mix science and education to promote supporting the local beekeeping industry.

“It’s just really fun. Even though my sister and I both work full-time jobs, we just are passionate about it.”

amber rutledge

The team checks each hive one by one. They collect honeycombs, while also monitoring the health of the bees. It’s a dangerous job, but one that Rutledge says she feels more comfortable doing now. 

“Each hive–I always call it kind of like a teenager,” she laughed. “They all have their own personality. So once you know your hive and you know what they want from you, you work with them and you respect what they want.”

And while being around bees may not sound as sweet to you, Rutledge says we all can do our part to support them. 

“It’s different ways to kind of help the bees. They can do their part. Whether it’s just planting a flower in a pot or whatever—whatever they can do with their own two hands,” she said.

Rutledge said she is hoping the family’s Wild Harvest Honey Farm can continue to educate the community.

“I honestly love it when I’m teaching people and they’re like, ‘Oh my gosh! I never knew that,’ or seeing their face light up when they try something they’ve never tried before. It’s that feeling–like of awareness that I just maybe taught somebody something that they can teach future generations or just knowledge,” said Rutledge.

For more information, visit Wild Harvest Honey Farm’s website.

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