St. Louis high school student operates Amazing Grace Honey out of his backyard in Ladue
St. Louis native Peter Grace was just 10 years old when he went on his first sales pitch. His dad, Warren Grace, handed him two mason jars full of their harvested honey and sent him marching into stores, hoping to have a seller interested in purchasing their locally grown, raw honey.
Thus began the start of Amazing Grace Honey, named such, “Because the honey is amazing, our name is Grace, and we make honey,” Peter said with a laugh.
Today, Peter is 16 years old, and being the youngest with three older brothers, he’s the last sibling left at home to help out with their family’s business. Peter’s father, Warren Grace, has been keeping bees for 15 years in their backyard in Ladue as a hobby. He started out with just one beehive, jarring and bottling leisurely. Now, their family has seven hives, producing honey in much larger quantities – 675 pounds last year – and looking for stores in the St. Louis area to sell their honey.
Since the Grace family’s early days of selling honey, the business has grown in many ways. They’ve upgraded many of their containers from mason jars to high-grade glass jars, some even shaped like bears. The packaging design, which Peter’s mom Lyn Grace handles, has evolved from the four sons hand-drawing bees on the labels to a more professional, printed design that Peter’s mom came up with.
The one thing that has stayed the same, though, is the actual process of making honey. Bees are mostly self-sufficient, and so the main duty of Peter and Warren, as beekeepers, is to make sure the beehives are healthy. “We make sure the bees are in a good environment, that they have access to all the flowers and all the nectar they need,” Peter said.
The beehives are set up in big boxes with wooden shelves inside, where the honeycomb is made, each hive holding thousands of bees at a time. When Peter and his dad are ready to harvest, they take out those shelves and brush the bees aside, then they cut open the honey wax, essentially unlocking all the honey that was just made.
“In the wax is all the honey, so then the honey pours out,” Peter said. “We put it in this giant machine, it spins it around, and it gets all the honey off the shelves.”
The process of harvesting is Peter's favorite part of the operation. “I like the community it brings,” he said. “We have neighbors who will come over, hang out and help us harvest. It’s a lot of fun.”
The honey is completely raw, with no additives. “Raw” means that it isn’t exposed to high heat or pressure filtering, which degrades the flavor, but instead, gravity-strained through a filter and bottled up.
Peter said that other companies sometimes add different flavorings, like strawberry or maple syrup, but he prefers to keep it natural, with the only differentiation being in the season in which it was harvested. Spring harvest is lighter in color and flavor, while summer harvest is amber-colored and richer tasting.
Amazing Grace Honey is currently sold at The Wine and Cheese Place and The Nook, and they’re looking to expand to more stores soon. “Peter’s gonna have to get out there and bang on doors – that’s his job,” Warren said.
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