Honey draws market visitors

The Country Market was buzzing with excitement Saturday during its annual celebration of National Honey Month.

Beekeepers and local honey producers gathered on the back porch of the store and invited visitors to taste several varieties of honey, view live bees, and learn how to gather honey.

Besides showing their wares, the beekeepers’ and honey producers’ goal was to teach people about the benefits of the flying insect many people fear.

“You shouldn’t just kill them,” said beekeeper and honey producer Jacquie Hoover. “About half of our food is pollinated by bees directly or indirectly. We want people to respect bees and realize they have a place in our environment.”

Hoover and her husband, Steve Hoover, of Ponchatoula, started their honey making business seven years ago when her husband caught his first swam and “put them in a box in the kitchen,” Hoover said, chuckling.

Since then, they are the couple Ponchatoula residents turn to when they need someone to catch a swarm of bees.

The couple brought about 500 of their bees, safely encased in glass along with their hive, to the event.

For Taylor Sowash, the bee celebration was aligned with her school science lesson.

“I learned about the good things bees do,” the 10-year-old said.

After looking closely at the encased bees, Taylor sampled a variety of flavored honey that the Hoovers brought to the event.

“The blueberry tastes so sweet,” Taylor said.

“One has a soapy taste,” said Bray Hauck-Normand as she wrinkled her nose.

Michael Drake, of Ponchatoula, who is a longtime friend of the Hoovers, brought his daughters, Taylor and Bray, to the event so they could learn more about bees and how they make honey, he said.

As the two girls tasted the honey, their father talked with Steve Hoover about the honey collecting process.

“I like the idea that they’re getting to see that there are different types of honey,” Drake said. “Also, that bees are good and they don’t have to be afraid of bees.

Hannah Kinchen, of Hammond, said she plans to become a beekeeper and came to the event to find some tips and perhaps a mentor or two.

“I’m sort of an outdoorsy person, I like to bake and I like animals, so beekeeping brings all of those things together,” she said.