• 39°

Faces of our farmers: Karen Hughes

Under a canopy of shade trees at Constitution Square, Karen Hughes’ jars of golden spring honey almost glow on her display table at the Boyle County Farmers Market on Saturdays.

Karen and her husband Wick own and operate Far Cry Farm in Mercer County near Shaker Village. They work year-round in the racehorse industry, Karen said.

But in the spring they raise about one-third of an acre of strawberries to sell at the market, along with homemade jam she makes from the left over “ugly” berries.

And for the past 10 years, Karen has been a beekeeper.

The spring honey she sells comes from the 12 hives on their farm. The bees collect nectar from flowers they find within a three-mile radius of their hives, she said. “You don’t really know unless you send it to a lab to be tested to find the nectar source.”

The Hughes have been in the area for more than 25 years, she said, and they’re always had a farm.

“Beekeeping was a new thing. I was just interested in it.”

She taught herself the art of beekeeping and collecting honey by going to clinics and classes, joining bee clubs and reading a lot. “I didn’t have a mentor,” Karen said. “But it’s best to have a mentor in beekeeping. It’s very tricky and it’s very complicated.”

“The things that you learn from the bees are amazing.”

They’re very hard workers and the workforce is all female. And they have an internal sophisticated navigational system that is based on the location of the sun. If you move their hives even just a couple of yards away, they will return to the old spot, Karen explained.

Bees are “fascinating creatures.”