By Dillon Tabish
It all begins with one bee. Or in the case of Glacier County Honey Co., nearly 90 million bees.
Greg and Courtney Fullerton are in the business of beekeeping. Based out of Babb, a small community nestled along the eastern border of Glacier National Park, the husband and wife duo extract and bottle honey and make beeswax products, including candles and Christmas ornaments. Their company, founded in 2009, is a popular regional supplier of raw honey that is graded as water white, the highest color grade available that is pure and 100 percent natural.
Springtime marks a busy time of year for both bees and their keepers. When the weather begins to improve, the early blossoms arrive, which is when colonies of bees really go to work. By May, the activity is truly buzzing. Nectar and pollen begin filling the hive thick and fast.
Glacier County Honey Co. has roughly 1,500 colonies, or hives. Depending on the time of year, a healthy colony will have between 20,000 and 60,000 bees, and each hive produces roughly 100 pounds of honey.
The Fullertons have a long history of beekeeping. Greg, a native of Glacier Country, grew up helping his family nurture honey from colonies of bees. His father, Bob Fullerton, began keeping bees in the early 1970s and founded Chief Mountain Honey Company just north of Babb. After college Greg returned home to help his dad with the family business and by 2009 he and Courtney’s paths had crossed and they were married. As the story goes, within 36 hours of being married they were already extracting honey.
“I didn’t even like honey until I met Greg,” laughs Courtney, who worked as a lawyer before teaming up with her husband to launch Glacier County Honey Co.
“I grew up on a farm, so in some sense I’ve returned to my roots, and I’m so glad to be back.”
The business has thrived and become a regional retail supplier of honey in grocery stores as far away as Billings. In 2013 Greg and Courtney also took over Chief Mountain Honey Co. after Bob retired from selling retail honey.
“We’ve seen huge growth in the last six years,” Courtney said.
A popular annual gathering is Aug. 8, when the Fullertons welcome the community to their warehouse for “Fill Your Bucket Day,” when honey is sold for cheaper wholesale rates. Last year more than 1,200 people turned out with a container to fill with raw, natural honey for winter.
“People have just loved it and they enjoy touring the warehouse,” Courtney said. “It’s a great way to educate people about beekeeping.”
For more information about Glacier County Honey Co., visit glaciercountyhoney.com or call 406-544-2818.