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How a Hive of Bees Led a Nebraska Couple to Sweet Romance

a couple of kids sitting on a truck with a large load of garbage
An East-Nebraska Couple Makes Flavorful HoneyJessica Vettel

Some folks might balk at living with millions of potentially prickly neighbors, but for Brian and Kathy Suchan of Clarkson, Nebraska, beekeeping’s a labor of love—truly.

The couple met after Kathy (who was beekeeping in South Carolina) first tasted some of Brian’s wares (he’s a fourth-generation beekeeper) at the behest of her mother.

“She said, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve found the best honey I’ve ever had in my life,’ ” says Kathy. “Which kind of hurt my feelings!”

Kathy soon got over the sting, and her romance with Brian blossomed. So did their business. Together, they founded a company—Fat Head Farms, named for their first bulldog, Porkchop—and began making and selling dozens of honey products, such as Lavender Blossom Infused, Hickory Wood Smoked, and Chocolate Creamed. They currently manage around 800 colonies (that’s more than 45 million bees!), which forage for nectar all across Eastern Nebraska and produce more than 40,000 pounds of honey per year.

a group of dogs lying on the ground
Jessica Vettel

The Mascots

Porkchop (above, right), the Suchans’ first dog and Fat Head’s unofficial CEO, inspired the logo. Harley (left) came next. Then Porkchop’s mom, Queen (center), unexpectedly arrived. “We couldn’t say no,” says Kathy. “She’s family.”

brian and kathy suchan on their porch
Brad Iwen

The Beekeepers

Though managing all those hives keeps the Suchans as busy as their buzzing buddies, they do find time to relax and enjoy themselves. “On warm evenings, Brian and I always try to take some time to lay back in our chairs on the back patio and just listen to the hum of the bees coming back to their hives,” says Kathy. “There’s really nothing more soothing than that sound. It’s almost surreal.”

Want to support bees in your area? Here are our tips for creating a pollinator garden!

kathy suchan, packing honey in her shipping room
Jessica Vettel

The Headquarters

Kathy (above) packs a box in Fat Head’s main offices: the old farmhouse, which was unoccupied after Brian and Kathy had a new house built on the property. “It was supposed to be bulldozed, but when we started dating, I put my foot down,” says Kathy. “It has so much character.” The wallpaper is original; the chandelier, a gift.

a beekeeper using a beehive
Brad Iwen

The Mission

“For us, bee health is number one,” says Kathy. That means Fat Head bees forage on clover and wildflowers but aren't transported around the country to pollinate crops—something commercial beekeepers often do, which can stress colonies.

How to Start Beekeeping

Interested in keeping bees of your own? The Suchans have some advice:

  • Honeybees are not aggressive, but stings happen. Find out if you (or any family members) have bee allergies. If so, you can take steps to minimize risk.

  • In some areas, beekeepers must register hives, have neighbors’ consent, or keep the number of colonies within certain limits. Check before investing.

  • Local bee clubs offer mentorship, support, and a wealth of info on regional weather, pests, and food sources. You should join before acquiring a hive.

  • Having more than one hive lets newbies compare progress and gives you more resources to work with if a colony starts to have difficulties.

We've got tons of great recipes for using honey! Kathy recommends drizzling her barrel-aged honey over roasted vegetables or salmon. “It takes it up a notch.”

You can buy Fathead Honey on their site! Here are some flavors we recommend:

Creamed Honey

<p><a href="https://www.fatheadhoney.com/shop/12-oz-creamed-honey" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Creamed Honey</p><p>fatheadhoney.com</p><p>$18.00</p>

Shop Now

Creamed Honey

fatheadhoney.com

$18.00

Hickory Wood Smoked Honey

<p><a href="https://www.fatheadhoney.com/shop/12-oz-hickory-wood-smoked-honey" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Hickory Wood Smoked Honey</p><p>fatheadhoney.com</p><p>$18.00</p>

Shop Now

Hickory Wood Smoked Honey

fatheadhoney.com

$18.00

Bourbon Barrel Aged Honey

<p><a href="https://www.fatheadhoney.com/shop/hwr28a34pieafc7uuowu21lr4jd3mt" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Bourbon Barrel Aged Honey</p><p>fatheadhoney.com</p><p>$18.00</p>

Shop Now

Bourbon Barrel Aged Honey

fatheadhoney.com

$18.00

Kathy's Go To Honey

<p><a href="https://www.fatheadhoney.com/shop/kathys-favorites-bundle" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Kathy's Go To Honey</p><p>fatheadhoney.com</p><p>$45.00</p>

Shop Now

Kathy's Go To Honey

fatheadhoney.com

$45.00

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