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Oklahoma Made: Honey bee hobby blooms into family business at Roark Acres honey

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The taste of local honey is truly unique and special.

It’s the taste of home.

Flavor profiles reflect the landscape and plant life of the area where the bees forage. One region is distinct from another.

It doesn’t get more local than that.

And at Roark Acres, which produces honey in the Tulsa area, honey products are created by many members of a local family. It’s their art and homage to the bees that they raise.

roark honey

Roark Acres Honey Farms is a family-owned business and a member of the Made in Oklahoma Coalition.

No doubt about it, it’s a fulfilling job — and they know it, co-owner Amy Roark said.

“My husband, Michael, always says, ‘Now, it does not feel like going to work. I used to wear polos and khakis, and now I wear jeans and cowboy boots,’” Amy Roark said.

Michael Roark got his first two hives in 2012 — it was supposed to be a hobby, but little did the Roarks know then, their new family business was in the making.

“We just sort of fell into it and ended up just loving the bees,” she said.

Cornmeal popovers with butter and Roark Acres honey

Roark Acres honey is prized among local cooks and chefs.

Michael worked with a local commercial beekeeper full time for almost a year. He learned everything he possibly could about honey bees and, in less than eight years, turned two honey bee hives into over 1,000.

They began developing products including pure, raw Oklahoma honey, flavored creamed honey, various infused honeys, bee pollen, beeswax, beeswax candles, honey candy, handcrafted soap, lip balm, lotion bars and many skin care products. In the spring, they even sell bees.

In March 2016, they opened a small storefront in Jenks, offering a down-home, country, vintage experience for guests.

Then, in 2019, Reasor’s grocery stores began selling Roark Acres honey products in all of their stores across northeastern Oklahoma.

Roark honey

The Roark family started with two hives and grew to have more than 1,000 in about eight years.

Michael’s brother Scott is in charge of delivery, and daughter Courtney is in charge of bottling the product. Chloe, the oldest daughter, managed the Tulsa Farmer’s Market honey sales every Saturday until she went off to college in 2021.

“Since we started selling honey to the public, we have been able to purchase acreage out in the Sapulpa/Mounds area (where we bottle now) and open a bigger storefront — still in Jenks — to grow into more of an old-school general store,” Amy Roark said.

While Michael leads the production crew and plans growth for the business, Amy, the “Queen Bee,” runs the store, coordinates more sales avenues and makes the health and beauty products.

Her cousin, Amanda, sells the Roark Acres Honey at several markets in Bartlesville and does local trade shows or festivals in that area.

The family has certainly become experts in the bee business.

Amy Roark explained that honey will taste different depending on the location where the bees are foraging. Honey from bees in the Tulsa area and northeastern Oklahoma will taste similar to the honey in western Arkansas because of similar plant life.

“For the spring harvest, the hives are out from the end of April to the first part of July,” Amy Roark said. “The fall harvest is end of September, first part of October. That honey is very different, almost black, much thicker texture, not as sweet and it tastes like butter pecan.”

And in Oklahoma, it is actually harder to produce local honey than other places, Roark said, so yields are smaller here than other places.

“We just do not have the amount of forage for the bees to take care of. A lot of the land is used for alfalfa, corn... things that bees do not forage off of as much. People like manicured lawns, they mow down the clover, which the bees like.”

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