Founder of Barkman Honey Company dies

Richard Barkman, founder of Barkman Honey Company, now a part of Golden Heritage Foods LLC, died Thursday at Hillsboro.

Barkman had battled Parkinson's disease for more than 10 years.

Barkman got his love of honey from his father, Ezra Barkman, a Hillsboro farmer who acquired his first bees in 1920.

When Barkman graduated from high school in 1953, he persuaded his father to expand his honey production.

The bees were wintered in Idabel, Okla., and taken to South Dakota in summer.

In 1960, the Barkmans built a three-story building in Hillsboro to process and package honey. Sales were slow but gradually increased.

In 1980, they built a new 22,000 square foot building. Business began booming in 1987, when Richard and his wife, Joyce, took over management of the company.

Business doubled in six years, requiring a doubling of space. Barkman's Busy Bee honey became a nationally-recognized brand.

After Richard Barkman was no longer able to run the business due to health reasons, his son Brent, who worked with him in the business, took over management.

In March 2002 Barkman Honey Company merged with Stoller's Honey in Latty, Ohio, to form Golden Heritage Foods LLC. Brent Barkman and Dwight Stoller share ownership.

The company headquarters and primary packaging plant is in Hillsboro. It buys honey from all over the world and now is second in branded retail honey sales. It is the top provider of honey in the U.S. to the foodservice industry and also supplies honey to the industrial ingredient market. Approximately 90 people are employed in Hillsboro and 90 in Ohio.