Devastated by the loss of one of his beehives this past winter, 16-year-old Fayette, Missouri, student, Jonathan Ebbesmeyer showed no sign of losing hope when it came to harvesting and selling his first batch of locally made honey bee products.
“It puts you down, but seeing the hive I have now is doing really well, I am very happy where I am,” Ebbesmeyer said.
Ebbesmeyer’s bee journey began with FFA. His enthusiasm for pollinators grew this past summer when he attended Missouri FFA Public Speaking Academy, where he advocated for the bee industry and the important role that honeybees have in the environment. Ebbesmeyer has also served as a Native Bee Ambassador, teaching 50 Fayette Elementary students bee-related curriculum and hands-on activities.
As an FFA member, each student participates in a Supervised Agriculture Experience (SAE). Ebbesmeyer first worked as a farmhand for a local farmer for the start of his required SAE, but in August of 2018, Ebbesmeyer decided to take on another project.
He had always been interested in owning a business. When Ebbesmeyer found out that a beekeeper in Linn, Missouri, was getting rid of over 90 hives, he and his parents brought home the first two honeybee hives that would start Ebbesmeyer Bee Company.
With the help of Dennis Potter, retired beekeeper and family friend, Ebbesmeyer learned the ups and downs of the bee industry. Whether it be outside inspecting the hives, checking for pests and diseases, or expanding the hive, Ebbesmeyer works to keep his bees happy and healthy.
“Partnering with someone else is an awesome way to get your hands sticky,” said Valerie Duever, past president of the Missouri State Beekeepers Association.
Ebbesmeyer Bee Company successfully sold out of products within hours of posting them on the company’s Facebook page in September of 2019. Products sold ranged from honey-infused lip balms in a variety of flavors to pure honey.
As he looks towards the future, Ebbesmeyer plans to expand his business to three or four hives. The additional hives will allow him to increase his product inventory. Ebbesmeyer also plans to expand his product list by creating new wax goods and lip balm flavors this next season.
In addition to keeping his bees happy, Ebbesmeyer plans to attend college.
“He can go anywhere,” according to Fayette agriculture adviser, Robyn Eschenbrenner. “He has a lot of different ideas whether it be in plant science, turf grass management, or landscape architecture. He is very smart, and his options are endless.”
Although he is unsure of which career path to pursue, Ebbesmeyer is focused now on working and growing with Ebbesmeyer Bee Company.