History of Lake Thompson Honey Company

Historical Photo of Lake Thompson Honey Company

In 1915, grandpa Alfred Folsland caught his first swarm of bees in a tree at the family farm west of Oldham, South Dakota. He was fascinated by honey bees and soon one hive had become 300 hives. Alfred and his brother Kon were big potato farmers at the time and decided to go full time with honeybees. The honey crops were bountiful until the dirty thirties came along. They found a wet area near Bemidji, Minnesota and moved the bees there for several summers. They made decent crops and the honey sales got the family through the Depression.

Historical Photo of Lake Thompson Honey Company

The hives were overwintered in root cellars and replacements purchased from queen breeders in several southern states. A beehouse was built for the purpose of extracting honey and storing the bee equipment. The comb uncapper and honey extractor were hooked to a series of shafts and pulleys that were powered by a Model T Ford that sat outside the building. The car was replaced by a Wisconsin gas motor and finally by electricity in 1949. Alfred and his family produced large quantities of comb honey and shipped it to buyers on rail cars.

The bee business was passed on to Alfred’s son James and his brother. A modern facility was built in 1968 and the colony numbers were gradually expanded. Overwintering in root cellars wasn’t working anymore, so in 1979 James decided to start taking the bees to Texas for the winter. The Folslands started raising queens and stocking their own new colonies for the season. All the hives were now on pallets and moved with forklifts. In 1989, James brought his son David into the business full time. Another son Brad purchased a part of the company at the same time and still operates his apiary at the original farmstead. David and James modernized most aspects of the company including the installation of a fully automated honey extracting system.

Historical Photo of Lake Thompson Honey Company
Historical Photo of Lake Thompson Honey Company

David’s wife Cindy started selling honey at farmers markets and art festivals as well as developing the current line of honey and beeswax products. The bees are now shipped to Texas for wintering. They go to California in February to pollinate the almond orchards, back to Texas to stock all the new hives for the year, then to South Dakota for honey production. What would Alfred think if he knew what an effect that first swarm would have on the Folsland family history?



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