When planning your holiday gifting, specialty food items like honey, maple syrup, cheese, and wild rice can be excellent options. A small jar of honey makes a great stocking-stuffer, or look for sample sets and gift boxes for a present that is unique and delicous!
With a background in biology and a pre-honey career in a variety of roles at Mayo Clinic, Chris Schad of The Bee Shed takes a scientific and natural-resources approach to beekeeping. A few years ago, after collecting some spring honey made by bees foraging on apple and dandelion blossoms, Chris had a revelation that led to a “season-specific” approach to honey. Along with a classic wildflower honey, The Bee Shed produces four seasonal products, Spring Bright, Summer Solstice, August Kiss, and Autumn Bold, plus a Buckwheat Stout. This year they’ve added Hot Shed Honey, their wildflower honey infused with locally grown ghost peppers from Serio Farms, a neighbor at the Rochester farmers’ market.
“With our family of seasonal honey products, you can taste the difference from one month to the next,” says Chris. “It makes the table experience more fun and inspires creative new uses for honey beyond something that goes on your toast in the morning.”
In the lifetime of the business, Chris has had a few collaborators including his original business partner Ed Simon, a retired IMBer, and John Shonyo, also from Mayo. (Notice a scientific trend?) Today, Chris is the sole owner with John still working part-time along with Chris’s two sons, Lucas and Cole, and employees Colum and Julie. “My biggest partner is my wife, Sandy,” Chris notes. “She’s my fill-in-all-the-gaps partner… and she tolerates the mess I bring into the house after a day in the bee yard.”
That work in the bee yard (or apiary, the bee’s habitat) may be Chris’s favorite part of the business. “The work I do in July has a direct impact on the bee health the following spring, and that forward planning and strategizing appeals to me.” He also appreciates seeing the surprise on people’s faces when they taste the difference between the monthly honey products. “The biologist in me takes some satisfaction in knowing that we've opened their eyes to a small little nuance of the natural world.”
An excellent gift, their honey can be ordered and shipped anywhere at thebeeshed.com and found at many stores. In the Twin Cities find their honey at Worker B at the Mall of America, Ingebretsens Scandinavian Gifts, and all Kowalksi's Market store locations. In Rochester find them at all four HyVee stores plus several neighborhood stores and gift shops. They are at Fareway Foods in Byron and Stewarville, SuperFresh Foods in Austin, and soon at Daisy Blue Botanicals in Albert Lea.
Looking for Minnesota honey producers? Find one near you at in the Minnesota Grown Directory.