Queen Bee Gardens celebrates 40 years of sweet success in honey candy business

The Zeller brothers and their employees at Queen Bee Gardens have a lot to celebrate this week and they are inviting the community to celebrate with them at a special barbecue luncheon to be held on Wednesday, June 22, from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. The luncheon is free to the public and will celebrate 40 years of sweet success for the family owned honey and candy business.

Gene Zeller makes candy at the Queen Bee Gardens factory. The family-owned company is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its candy business this week in Lovell. Patti Carpenter photo
Gene Zeller makes candy at the Queen Bee Gardens factory. The family-owned company is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its candy business this week in Lovell.
Patti Carpenter photo

The business, which is now run by brothers Gene and Von Zeller, along with next generation family members Ben and Jason Zeller, April Christensen and John Sponsel, was originally started by their grandparents Clarence and Bessie Zeller in 1976 as a way to create employment for family members. According to Ben, honey produced on the family’s farm outside of Lovell was initially the only product offered, but a special old family recipe for honey candy was later added to the list of products offered. The candy was such a big hit that the business expanded and now employees 13 full-time employees, three part-time employees and one sales representative in the field.

The company has expanded its product line and now offers more than 50 varieties of candies including chocolate truffles, honey caramels, “honeymoons” and English toffee. All of the candies are variations of the original family recipe. The company’s all-natural honey candies are sold in every state in the union and more than 800 stores currently carry their products.

The delicious candy confections have been awarded the “People’s Choice” award in several competitions sponsored by the National Nutritional Foods Association and Better Nutrition Magazine.

The fact that many of the candies are made with no sugar or very little sugar makes them more nutritious than many other brands on the market. All of the company’s products are gluten-free and, with the exception of one item, all are peanut free to accommodate those who are sensitive or allergic to those items.

The factory is located behind a modest storefront at 262 East Main, in Lovell. Though most of the candy is sold to the wholesale market, candy can be purchased in bulk or by the piece a retail shop next door to the factory. All-time favorites include chocolate bark, haystacks, honeymoons, truffles and pralines.  The company is known for its famous “honeymoon” candies, which are a marriage of nuts, a special filling made with honey from the family’s beehives and chocolate.

Ben said the family maintains the retail shop, which sells at wholesale prices as a way to say thank you to the community for helping the family through tough times, when its original factory located at the family ranch burned to the ground.

To commemorate the success of its candy line, the factory store will be offering its original “pecan pearl” candy at a 40 percent discount.

The company plans to also host its annual candy tasting party following the Mustang Days Parade on Saturday, June 25.

By Patti Carpenter