Today I found myself at Mann Lake Ltd. in Hackensack, Minnesota. I like to visit showrooms and beekeeping vendors when I am on long drives or in places that are remote to me, northern Minnesota counts as someplace remote to New England. Drove half an hour north of Brainerd while on vacationing with in-laws. The Mann Lake showroom is the most massive display of beekeeping equipment in one place that I have seen to date. They apparently have a Pennsylvania showroom that is larger, so that can be another adventure.
Only bought a few small items since flying home there is a little room in my bags. They have lots of books and at least a thousand products from the catalog in the showroom (≈3500 products total). If one doesn’t see something just ask for it and they will go get it.
When a customer enters, someone gets up from the office and come to help you. They answered ALL my questions, and we talked about bees for a while. The staff was accommodating and was happy to answer all my questions.
I learned many things today that were interesting such as the Mann Lake company was started in 1983 locally in Mann Lake, MN by Jack and Betty Thomas who still help run the company. I saw their reserved parking spots, so they are definitely around. The company is dedicated to quality product, that provides jobs for good people. The company is now employee owned under an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan). This way, the company’s employees carry on Jack and Betty’s dedication to beekeepers’ success., so their workforce has skin in the game and wants to be as innovative and forward thinking as possible. This motivates me personally to throw more business their way. (I have no affiliating to Mann Lake at this time. And I would mind one…) I prefer doing business with people who have my respect, and are local or Have ties to. My favorite are companies that employ people in the city, state, region, or county I’m living in. Minnesota was where my father spent his summers when he was farmed out of Chicago when he was growing up, and I have family here.
Mann Lake is not behind the magazine Bee Culture, which is a price of extraneous information picked up someplace. Bee Culture is its own entity, though the showroom sells the magazine.
They don’t have any attraction for tourists to visit, other than the showroom. They do have demo hives out back to demo equipment. Don’t have more details on that I’m leaving too soon.
People in Minnesota really like Italian bees, probably because of the fast build up in the spring. They are having an excellent honey year this 2018. They are interested in new strains of bees and willing to try them out. They get their bees mainly from California breeders here in MN.
The Mann Lake store can sell you 60# buckets of honey. I just don’t want to haul that on the plane back home to Boston.
Their new green propolis trap pad (HD-368) is softer/bendy than the old one. Plus, it’s cheaper, so I bought two, see the Propolis Traps.
I got to see both types of pollen traps for the hives. The entrance hive one has three sizes of hardware cloth in it; i.e., 1/16″, 1/8″, & 3/16″ grid. The box frame version can be turned on and off, as opposed to the entrance trap which needs to be removed. (Links to follow). I like the variety and choice. They don’t carry any of the cheap plastic ones that come out of China. More on pollen collectors late this year.
Good jobs are hard to find up here in upper Minnesota. There are resorts and seasonal tourist work, but steady good work with benefits are hard to find. The people that work here s need happy, and Minnesotans are charming, polite folks in my experience. I have dealt with customer service a couple time via email and am so pleased with the level of response I have gotten.
Thank you to the folks a Mann Lake Ltd showroom for making my visit so enjoyable and worth my time. For the reader, it is worth a detour to visit this location.