Family remembers ‘The Honey Lady’

Published 8:01 am Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Booth family featured in an early photograph. Photo provided

The Booth family featured in an early photograph.
Photo provided

Anna Booth was not one to give up what mattered to her, regardless of her age.

“Very strong, no nonsense,” granddaughter Jenny Bishop said.

Anna (Bustad) Booth, who was known as “The Honey Lady,” passed away Aug. 1, 2014, at the Adams Health Care Center. She was 102. Many people knew Anna and her late husband, Glenn, for selling honey and raspberries in Austin for several years. The couple started bee-keeping and raising raspberries in their 70s and 80s. Anna continued her honey and raspberry businesses until 2005, when she was 93.

The children of Anna Booth share stories. They are, from left, Daryle Booth, David Booth and Gladys Morgan.  Eric Johnson/

The children of Anna Booth share stories. They are, from left, Daryle Booth, David Booth and Gladys Morgan. Eric Johnson/

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Anna didn’t stop the businesses when Glenn passed away in 1995, even though she was 82. She continued to sell honey, raspberries and homemade jam. After a few years, Anna sold the beehives, but she still bought and bottled honey, providing it to stores and fighting for her shelf space.

Anna grew up near Taopi and LeRoy before she married Glenn in September of 1931. The couple had six children and moved several times throughout their lives.

They lived near Albert Lea, Clarks Grove and Arizona before they moved to White Bear Lake, Minnesota, where Anna worked as a cook and Glenn worked as a gardener for employer Mrs. Hardenberg for more than 20 years.

Anna’s family remembered how good her cooking was. Bishop recalled many of her grandmother’s recipes were made up as she went.

“I learned I had to be there when she made it, to know how to make it,” Bishop said.

The couple moved to Austin in 1986.

After visiting their son, Daryle, and daughter-in-law, Carole Booth, in Texas, who also kept bees, Anna and Glenn were inspired to start their own hives.

Bishop recalled the first time her grandparents showed her their bee-keeper’s outfits.

Anna Booth and her husband  Glenn. Photo provided

Anna Booth and her husband Glenn. Photo provided

“I remember the first time she came out in her bee costume,”Jenny said. “I’m thinking, ‘What are you doing?’ She and grandpa both had these bee costumes on.”

At one point, the couple owned about 45 hives and bottled and marketed up to 40 tons of honey. They kept one beehive in their garage in town, to pollinate their own garden, while the other hives bounced from farm to farm, pollinating apple orchards, fields and pastures. They stocked several stores around town with honey, including Hy-Vee and Superfresh, and also sold honey at the farmers markets for about ten years.

Grandson Russell Morgan recalled getting put to work when he visited his grandparents.

“I remember carrying the five gallon pails down the steps,” Russell said.

His brother, David Morgan, also recalled working for his grandparents.

“I got mostly put to work, picking raspberries and strawberries and a lot of honey,” David said. “I helped them out a lot with the honeybees.”

Anna used the bees for more than just making honey. She had arthritis, and her family remembered her letting bees sting her where the arthritis was acting up.

“That was her remedy for her arthritis,” Bishop said.

Anna’s family remembered her finding a use for everything. They recalled her making candles from the beeswax she collected.

“Nothing went to waste,” Russell said.

Anna entered her honey into the Mower County Fair and won blue ribbons for several years.

“She was really proud of that,” Gladys said.

When she moved to the Adams Health Care Center after a stroke, she continued to stay busy. Gladys recalled one nurse telling her, “We didn’t put Anna on our schedule, she put us on her schedule.”

“She was very busy down there, she either had a dust cloth or something else in her hand working,” Gladys said. “They were so good to her down there.”