When Karen Angus was looking for a unique favor to give to wedding guests, she didn’t have to look further than the roof of her company’s office building in Valley View. For several years now, the president and COO of GIE Media, Chris Foster, has kept an apiary there.
“[My wife, Lisa, and I] started doing it for fun,” Foster says. “My youngest son said he’d like to keep bees and my wife said, ‘Sure, we’ll try to figure it out.’ So, Lisa went to classes and bee associations to learn how to do it.”
After a particularly long and painful process of trying to get approval for beekeeping on their Hudson property, nearly 200,000 bees ended up on the media company’s rooftop. As it turned out, some neighbors weren’t too supportive of the idea. In the end, the alternative location has its advantages; the hives’ proximity to the Ohio Erie Canal has given the bees access to a great foraging area.
“The honey has the smell and taste of clover and apple blossoms in the spring,” says Foster. “And in the fall, the honey looks almost pitch black from the buckwheat that grows along the canal.”
The company employees, including Angus, who volunteer to maintain to the bee boxes get first dibs of the nearly 200 pounds of honey produced each year. So, when the bride-to-be asked for a small amount of honey for her wedding, she didn’t expect to get enough to give to all the guests of her August nuptials.
“Next thing I knew, all the honey was bottled and sitting on my desk,” Angus says. “[Foster] had ordered 120 jars and his wife filled them all,” Angus says. “It was super sweet.”
Since the first honey harvest, the Foster bee hobby has expanded to eight hives and five acres. “We bought a farm so we could be a registered Summit County apiary,” says Foster. While he keeps the hives buzzing at the office and dabbles in the art of making mead, his wife tends the bees at the farm and sells the honey. A one-pound jar costs $10; a two-pound jar is $18.
“We have already harvested 300 pounds in Hudson,” says Foster. “And we’ll be digging into the hives again in mid-September.”
To find out more about their honey, check out their website: TheFostersMeadow.com.