History of EHC
The purchase of 850 beehives from Robert Hayes in central Louisiana in 1986 was a turning point for Merrimack Valley Apiaries back in the Northeast. Despite migrating to Florida almost a decade earlier to reduce winter loss and dependency on package bee replacements, the stress imposed by multiple pollinations continued to take it’s toll, forcing us to buy replacement hives where ever we could find them. What made this buyout special was the offer by Bob Hayes to “stay on” and manage the colonies at their current locations in Louisiana. This arrangement allowed us to make approximately 500 splits in March and send them out on the northeast pollination circuit while maintaining the 850 hive core for honey production in Louisiana.
We were very lucky to have Bob Hayes manage the Louisiana farm. His beekeeping skill produced sufficient honey to pay expenses while maintaining and increasing colony numbers at a time when merely keeping colonies alive became increasingly difficult. Bob Hayes retired in 1998 to spend more time as pastor of his church. During his time with us colony numbers grew from approximately 850 to over 2500 while honey production grew from 100 to 300 bbl. per year.
The central Louisiana area around Avoyelles Parish was known for fast buildup of honeybee colonies and was home to the Overbey Apiaries, formerly the largest package bee producer in the nation. Bob lived in the hamlet of Evergreen Louisiana named after the Evergreen Plantation, consisting of several thousand acres during the antebellum period. Hence the name Evergreen Honey Co.
The farm in neighboring Bunkie was purchased in 1998 and consisted of approximately 100 acres located adjacent to the newly completed I-49. Joe Sanroma of Billerica Massachusetts, was chosen to manage the Bunkie farm. Joe had been with us since his Eagle Scout days. Under his leadership, colony numbers colony numbers and honey production continued to grow.
In 2008 we bought the facility at Jennings, Louisiana. Approximately 75 miles southwest of Bunkie, along I-10 built back in the 90’s by Jim Paysen of JZ’S BZ’S queen cell cup fame. Addition of the Jennings farm dramatically increased travel efficiency to and from bee yards in the Eunice/Church Point area.
Wes Card has managed the Jennings farm since graduating from Cornell and is now overall manager of Louisiana operations including over 30,000 colonies at over 300 locations.