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From honey to hives, new Lawrence store plans to be all things about bees
You can tell when I go on a honey binge: The natural sugars put an extra pep in my step, every door knob in the house has an extra layer of stickiness to it, and there are so many plastic bear bottles littering the floor that you would think Sarah Palin had been hunting from a helicopter. Soon, fellow lovers of honey will have a Lawrence store devoted just to them.
Plans are in the works for The Bee Store to open in The Malls shopping center at 23rd and Louisiana streets. The store will be run by the folks who own Anthony’s Beehive, the rural Lawrence business that has been selling honey in grocery stores and farmers markets for more than a decade.
The store will sell honey in many different forms. That includes just bottles of the “Kansas Honey,” that is produced from the rural Douglas County hives. It also will include 37 flavors of honey straws, which are basically single-serving packages of honey, and something called creamed honey, which is honey that is thicker and more easily spreadable. The store also will have about 24 flavors of lip balm made with beeswax, and a good assortment of candles made from beeswax. There even will be a station where you can make your own candle. The store also will have a corner devoted to other locally made products, and the shop will include a commercial kitchen that might be available for use by other local food producers.
The other thing inside the store will be a feel-good story. Anthony’s Beehive is operated by Anthony Schwager, a 30-year old rural Lawrence resident who was born with developmental disabilities. Anthony learned about bees in the third grade and convinced his parents to buy a couple of beehives shortly thereafter. The business now has about 60 beehives, although in some years it operates more than 100. The operation has been a full-fledged business for quite a while now, with its products on the shelves of many stores. Anthony plays an active role in it.
“It has made a huge difference in his life,” said his father and business partner Tony Schwager. “He is kind of famous in Lawrence. You will find him every Saturday at the farmers market.”
The store hopefully will take the business to a new level, Tony said.
“Ideally it will be something attractive enough that one of Anthony’s siblings will come back and help Anthony with the business once we are gone,” Tony said.
The store will be unique in another way too. It will sell items to help people get started with creating their own beehives. As news has begun to spread about the environmental dangers associated with a declining bee population, Tony believes the opportunity to get more people into beekeeping is ripe.
“There has been a huge upswing in interest,” Tony said. “There are a lot of people wanting to help the bees.”
In addition to selling some of the supplies needed for beekeeping, the store will actually have an area where people can build their own boxes for the beehives. The store will supply jigs, tools, materials, and most of all advice. Tony said the store also will offer several classes on beekeeping, with some of the learning done at the store but much of it done at the company’s beehives.
“The thing about beekeeping is it is fairly inexpensive to get into, but you really do need a mentor,” he said.
The store expects to open next week on a limited basis, but it plans to have its grand opening in September. The store is located in the southwest corner of the shopping center, near Sarpino’s Pizzeria.