The Comeback Kids: Tom Suyko and Boneafied
PECATONICA, Ill. (WIFR) - Going back to the basics, that’s the mission behind our next comeback kid’s side business, which started as a hobby and now sells products in his hometown.
Tom Suyko opened a jar of honey one day and wondered how it was made. It was that day that marked the beginning of his business, Boneafied.
Tom says, “Boneafied came up because it’s to the bone, it’s to the basics. So you’ve been ‘Boneafied’ it’s been stripped of everything and just made to the basics, pure and simple.”
The Boylan grad moved to Colorado but returned to the Stateline saying it didn’t have what he wanted. “I honestly just missed the woods and just being out here. Out in Colorado, it’s kind of a desert, the solitude here is what I missed,” Tom says.
Tom and his wife Kelly live on Rockford’s northeast side but it’s out in rural Pecatonica where they own a plot of land in the middle of the woods. This is where they keep the hives and are building a cabin. They check on the bees at least once a week.
But they are hoping to turn the whole area, including their cabin into a potential getaway and a soon-to-be workshop to teach people about beekeeping and host classes.
Kelly Griffin says, “The bees have been amazing to learn about over the last several years. Just their whole colony and how they work together has been amazing to learn about.” She also says the journey for her and Tom didn’t start off easy but now they tend to between 450,000 and 900,000 honeybee workers during peak times.
“We had two hives the year we started and everybody died over the winter. I’m super glad that he (Tom) didn’t want to give up and wanted to keep going. Now we’re up to 15 hives and it’s kind of cool,” Kelly says.
Tom says they have two different types of honeybee workers at the moment. “I have the hybrid Russian-Italian and then the regular Italian bees. Italian Bees are more prolific, they work harder and the Russian bees are supposed to be hearty through the winter.”
The push to support local businesses grew during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in Rockford. “Rockford is an upcoming town with a great art scene, the downtown area is coming along, it’s not as big as a big town,” Tom says.
Tom is happy to be a part of this new culture, buzzing around various fairs and markets. The raw honeycomb, jars of pure, raw wildflower honey and infused honey gift sets are the top sellers.
Tom says, “Rockford kind of had that black eye and people made fun of Rockford. But now people are proud to be here again.”
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