Stephen's Orchard & Apiary is a small family owned orchard and apiary that was established in 1995. Walt Stephen and his wife Karlon have two daughters Angie and Michelle, both married and three grandchildren, Leanna, Noah and MaeLynn. Stephen's Orchard and Apiary's goal is to provide quality honey, all natural body care and fresh fruit at a reasonable price.
Walt Stephen was a Kansas City, Kansas, fire captain for 30 years, but he knew he’d want some supplemental income when he retired. His plan was to raise some Hereford cattle and plant a small apple orchard, which now has about 70 trees. His plan was to plant seven or eight apple trees every year; that way he would have something to do when he retired.
Having bees on his property was a service provided by another local man in order to ensure pollination of his apple trees. But as Walt neared retirement, his beekeeper pasted away, and Walt couldn’t find a trustworthy replacement. So he purchased a couple of beehives. Walt and Karlon started by attending some meetings of the Northeastern Kansas Beekeepers’ Association. Karlon was kind of interested, so Walt purchased her a hive and got one for him and they figured they would learn together.
He soon realized that four hives would be better in order to provide the family with some honey. Once he retired in 2009, that quickly turned into 16 hives, with some located on other farms, and then 32. He realized that beekeeping could be another way to diversify his income.
Walt Stephen currently has over 200 bee colonies with 20 hives located on his property in Bonner Springs; the others are located on farms in Lawrence, Linwood, Leavenworth and Kansas City. What started out as a method to pollonize his apple trees turned into a lucrative side business and has earned Walt Stephen and his wife first-place ribbons for the best honey products at the Kansas State Fair.
Karlon, who still works as a nurse, got busy making use of the byproducts of beekeeping. She remembered her great-grandmother telling her stories about making soap, and she discovered some soap recipes that used beeswax. After mastering soap, she moved on to other beeswax products: lip balm, lotion bars, healing salve, body lotions and all natural products.
Karlon started with the soap and she blossomed from there. Her daughter Michelle started working with the family business in 2015 and between the two of them, they have launched a new propolis skin care line and several beeswax body care products. They enjoy the self-sufficiency of making their own products and the ability to make them all-natural.
Stephen's Orchard & Apiary sells products at the Kansas City River Market and Lawrence Farmers Market. Please feel free to stop by anytime.