Yes, our Rose-infused honey makes a Brie cheese spread spectacular and is a savory addition to tea, yogurt, ice cream and your morning pancakes. BUT rose is also known for its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties, which can increase dopamine and help with anxiety and depression. Rose is also helpful in sickness and cancer prevention, especially breast or cervical cancer, and helps reduce inflammation, pain, and menstrual cramping. Think about that extra punch of antioxidants, vitamin C and vitamin E the next time you pour rose honey in your afternoon tea.
Now, our Dutch Chocolate-infused honey – that is something that satisfies our sweet tooth AND our body’s natural “feel good” chemical, serotonin. Have you ever taken a bite of dark chocolate and felt instant happiness? That instant joy and satisfaction comes from an increase in serotonin due to the chemical make-up of tryptophan (amino acid that helps make serotonin), phenylethylalanine (natural anti-depressant), and theobromine (mood relaxer and stress reliever) – all of which are found in dark chocolate.
Additionally, the flavanols in dark chocolate are also known to help with cardiovascular disease and improve metabolic health, which can lead to lowering blood pressure and LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and alleviating diabetes. Dark chocolate is also high in antioxidants, which can enhance insulin secretion, improve insulin sensitivity, prevent inflammation, and create a fat-lowering effect. It is also rich in nutrients, including fiber, iron, magnesium, copper, potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium. Go ahead and pour our Dutch Chocolate infused honey on, well, anything, and get a dose of sweetness while also packing in some nutrients.
Don’t have our Rose or Dutch Chocolate honeys? Check out our varying sizes of infused honey here.
Note: These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Great Lakes Bee Company Owner Genji Leclair and General Manager Stefan Braun talked with FOX 17 Morning Mix and WOOD TV8 about how bees can make the perfect last-minute holiday gift.
“Bees are fascinating,” Leclair told FOX 17. “They’re important and have such a contribution to farming, agriculture, our food supply and they’re fun to take care of.”
Braun, who admits to being fascinated by any “creepy crawlies,” told FOX 17: “Bees carry a special place for me. I’ve been around them since I was a little kid. Once I became an adult, I dove in head first and learned everything there is to know about bees and want to continue learning about them.”
Leclair shared that if you’re thinking about giving the gift of bees for any occasion, there are some things to take into consideration, Leclair and Braun said.
“To take care of a domesticated animal – that is the honey bee – that’s something that can’t be taken lightly,” said Braun. “It is a chore and it is a job – and I love doing it.”
“When giving bees as a gift you want to make sure the person you’re giving it to – it’s like giving a puppy or any kind of animal – that they’re up for the challenge and the long-term commitment,” said Leclair. “A lot people think bees, because they’re wild insects, you can put them in their hive and they’ll be okay. But that’s not the case. In choosing a gift like this for someone, you want to make sure that this is something that they’re up for and would be committed to.
“You also want to make sure that they’re not allergic to bees,” Leclair added. “Bees do sting and some people are allergic, so you want to take that into consideration as well. Other than that, there’s some ongoing costs. Just like taking a dog to the vet and getting those vaccines, there’s care for the hive as well because there are different things that can happen in the hive – you might have to replace your queen, you have to treat the hive for certain things. Other than that, it’s fascinating and it’s so fun and amazing to be in the bee world.”
Great Lakes Bee Co. also wants to help beekeepers – new and experienced – with their bees. They’re offering beekeeping classes on March 9 and March 23. Classes are from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and are $50. Online registration is open.
“It’s a beginner bee class that will tell people how to prepare their location for the bees, how to maintain their bees, what kind of elements to look for in their bees and, of course, the most important part, how to harvest their honey; and how to make it a relationship between the beekeeper and the hive,” said Braun.
“A lot of times when people want to start beekeeping, they don’t know exactly what they need to have to start beekeeping, so we thought it would be a good option to allow people to purchase their bees, their hives and all the accessories they’ll need to go with it,” Braun told WOOD TV8. “It’s really handy for newbie beekeepers to know what they need to start out.”
“When I moved to Michigan and started to get into bees, I had no idea where to start,” Leclair said during her interview with WOOD TV8. “I just knew I loved honey and wanted to do something great for the environment. A lot of people just don’t know a lot about the importance of bees, what they do for the environment, how they impact the local ecology around their areas, the agriculture and their own garden. Beekeeping is one way you can really support your local farmer or even your own local grower, and also get some honey.
“Having access to information and someone who can mentor and demonstrate what it’s like to interact with the bees, how to set up a bee hive, how to protect yourself when you’re working with bees and some of the ins and outs of beekeeping is a great way to start your adventure in beekeeping, and have a little confidence in going into getting your bees started,” she added.
What’s Leclair’s favorite part about bees: Honey
“We have local, raw, unfiltered, unprocessed honey – it’s so healthy for you and it tastes so good,” she said. “Anytime you can get local, raw unprocessed honey do it from your local beekeepers. In addition to that, the hive has a lot of great byproducts like beeswax, and honeycomb and infused honey.”
Honey bees, honey and bee products and swag are available on the Great Lakes Bee Co. website. Beekeeping equipment will be available for purchase on the website in January 2024.
We hope our local beekeepers have successfully scooped up their bees’ last few drops of honey as last month was Honey Month. Enjoy September’s harvest as it’ll be awhile before we get any more of that gooey goodness. Cooler weather has arrived in Michigan, which means winter is on the horizon. For beekeepers, winterizing your hives is key to helping your bees survive West Michigan’s cold winter temperatures.
In October, you may have noticed the queen slowed down on her egg laying. As a hive moves through fall into winter the workers have been limiting the queen’s ability to lay eggs by backfilling the brood with winter stores. The hive’s drone population should have diminished by this time of year. A hive with drones in late-October may be an indication of a bigger problem. As the temperatures have cooled and resources have become scarce, you may see a handful of bees venture out of the hive looking for food on the occasionally warm autumn day.
Winterizing hives can take many forms. At a minimum, a winterized hive will have the feeder removed and the entrance reduced. A tip when using your entrance reducer, turn it so the smallest opening up for the bees to use. As bees die through the winter, having the entrance turned up gives an extra 1⁄4 inch of space for dead bees before the entrance is blocked. Other regular additions include adding on a mouse guard, a feeding shim, and a quilt box.
Also, some choose to cover or wrap their hives with foam board or black tar paper. Although winter does get cold, West Michigan winters generally do not get cold enough for long enough to require us to wrap our hives. Although not necessary, insulating the hive will reduce the bees’ work keeping the hive warm, but do not artificially heat the hive. Bees handle cold fairly well, but moisture causes bees difficulty. Wood chips or burlap in a quilt box will help wick condensation out of the hive.
Part of winterization is ensuring your bees have enough food. If your hive does not have 60 to 100 pounds of stored honey, October will be your last chance to feed liquid feed. All liquid feed should be pulled before the weather starts to freeze at night. If your bees still need feed, use fondant or sugar bricks. Do not feed pollen or pollen substitute for the remainder of fall. The reduction in pollen flow signals the bees to finish rearing winter bees as they prepare for winter.
Varroa treatments should be done after pulling honey in early fall. But, if the mite loads in your hive are still elevated, you will want to treat them as soon as possible. Make sure to remove chemical varroa mite treatments according to label directions and that all treatments are removed before winterizing your hives.
Finally, consider when you will take your losses. Weak hives will struggle and likely parish over the winter. To keep those resources from being squandered, think about combining weak hives to those that could use a boost.
September is one of our favorite months to celebrate! Why? It’s National Honey Month!
Our West Michigan bees have been busy little workers making honey in their hives the past four months. As bees begin to wind down their harvest in September to prepare for the upcoming winter, beekeepers can collect any remaining honey from their final honey flows.
As we celebrate our buzzing bees, here are a few facts about honey and National Honey Month:
The National Honey Board declared September as National Honey Month in 1989 to promote the beekeeping industry in the United States and, honey, of course.
Honey is known as one of “Mother Nature’s sweeteners” because of its natural properties and health benefits, including boosting energy, healing ailments and moisturizing your skin, not to mention its delicious taste.
Honey has been around for millions of years with beekeeping apiculture dating back to at least 700 BC with the Ancient Egyptians.
A single worker honeybee produces approximately 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in her lifetime. That means around 22,700 bees are needed to fill a single jar of honey, according to the National Honey Board.
The flavor and color of honey varies depending on the types of flowers the bees visit. Honey color ranges from nearly colorless to dark brown, and its flavor varies from mild to bold. Generally, light-colored honey is milder in taste and dark-colored honey tends to have a more robust flavor.
How to get the most out of your end-of-season honey collection:
Harvest your honey when the hive is full of capped honey – or when a cell is completely covered in white wax and honey is not visible. In Michigan, this can happen anytime in September through the first frost – usually in early October.
Begin your honey harvest by clearing the honeybees off of the frames, then scraping the wax capping from the top of the honeycomb. Once the wax has been removed, you are ready to extract the honey.
Use a a honey extractor, if you have one, to get the honey out of the comb and into a jar. This helps to preserve the comb so the bees can still use it and fill it back up with honey.
If you don’t have a honey extractor, common household items, such as a wooden spoon or potato masher, can be used to crush and drain the comb in a clean bucket. Then strain it through a colander or smaller kitchen strainer.
Enjoy your honey harvest one spoonful at a time! Happy Honey Month!
It’s bee season! Right now, Michigan bees are foraging on all the blossoming flowers and trees, including sumac, milkweed, basswood and clover, creating a robust nectar flow throughout the month of June.
While bees are out foraging, you might see them swarming as well. We’ve had a few calls about how to handle a swarm. No need to be alarmed – just a little patience and the swarm will usually disband, sometimes within about 15 minutes or an hour.
So why do bees swarm anyway?
A swarm occurs when the reigning queen and about half the bees rush out of the hive entrance together, clustering on a tree limb or another similar object. Bees will continue swarming as they look for a new home. Once the bees have found a new location, the cluster breaks up and the bees fly to their new hive.
The bees that did not leave the hive continue their work in the colony, collecting nectar and pollen and building honey combs. Within the colony, a new queen emerges and looks for rival queens. A “fight-to-the-death” combat ensues until there is only one surviving queen. Once the new queen has mated, she begins to lay eggs and the cycle begins again.
A bee’s natural instinct is to swarm when we have good weather. Since we haven’t had much rain lately in West Michigan, we’re seeing a lot of swarms. Just bee-patient and they’ll naturally move along.
Michigan Radio reporter Dustin Dwyer joined the Great Lakes Bee Co. for the second day of bee pickups this year to learn more about these buzzing pollinators and how they are helping the environment.
“When you get a nuc – a 9-frame nuc – you’re getting a regular hive box that you can use in your yard and they’re filled with bees,” Great Lakes Bee Company Owner Genji Leclair told Dwyer during the annual event. “There’s probably some honey in there, a queen, and baby bees being born – they’re so cute.”
The country’s agriculture depends on bees as farmers need them to pollinate crops, such as blueberries, apples, peaches, cherries, and almonds. Sarah Szymczyk and her family were among the many backyard beekeepers who attended GLBC’s annual spring bee pickup, bringing home thousands of bees inside their nuc.
“Our goal in life is to be sustainable living – being able to grow our own food and live in a space that we don’t depend on any other market and bees is the way to that,” she told Michigan Radio. “You have to have food and bees give you food.”
As the holiday season continues with parties and get-togethers with family and friends, Great Lakes Bee Co. Owner Genji Leclair shares how you can use honey to create a Honey Bloody Mary that’s packed with nutrients to kick any holiday hangovers or enjoy on National Bloody Mary Day, which happens to be Jan. 1, 2023 – New Year’s Day.
“Honey is a special sugar,” Leclair said during her live interview with GDNM on Dec. 16. “It’s very healthy for your body to absorb honey – there’s antimicrobial properties that create tryptophan (an essential amino acid that is necessary for making proteins) that help you calm down – and it’s quick to get to your brain.”
Leclair explained how a honey’s yellowy golden hue comes from the pollen on the plants the bees are foraging. For those living in West Michigan who are allergic to pollen, consuming trace amounts of the region’s honey helps build up immunity to the area’s pollen and will help with allergies.
“Bloody marys are on par with honey for me because they’re healthy and they solve a health problem: hangovers,” said Leclair. “When you have a hangover, blood sugar in your brain starts to deplete, which is what starts a hangover. It’s almost like inducing jet lag – you can’t sleep, you don’t feel good, and some people even get dizzy.”
In order to cure a hangover, you want to put nutrients back in your body, but the most important thing is putting sugar back in your brain, according to Leclair.
“A lot of people will do alcohol again because you’re literally putting sugar back in your system – and that’s where the alcohol comes in. If you’re not into alcohol, virgin bloody marys are a very healthy drink and by adding a honey to your bloody mary, you’re getting that sugar without the alcohol – but you can always double down and do it together.”
“I think this is the perfect thing to do for New Year’s Day because on New Year’s Eve, you’re out drinking all night and there’s a good chance you might not feel great on New Year’s morning,” said Leclair. “This is a perfect thing to put out for a New Year’s morning breakfast or brunch. But this is a very healthy drink – without the alcohol, of course – because you’re getting a lot of vitamins in your system.
“There’s a wide variety of bloody mary recipes, so go online and have some fun checking them out.”
Michigan bee hives will be “chilling out” this winter as they wait for the upcoming spring season. For beekeepers, there’s not much to do for your bees over the next couple months. No need to peek on your bee colony – opening the hive risks the escape of warm air. It’s time to just let the bees be.
While bees don’t actually hibernate during the winter months, they do cluster tightly together to stay warm in the hive. Beekeepers may see their bee colony die during Michigan’s cold winter. This is okay. If this happens to you, don’t be embarrassed. It is inevitable that some bee colonies just can’t survive the cold weather. If you’ve already winterized your hives, there isn’t anything else you can do to help them until the weather starts to thaw out in late winter. Until then, enjoy the holidays and the coziness that winter brings. If you want to get a head start preparing for the upcoming apiary season, here are a few ideas:
Join a local bee club, attend club meetings and learn from others about being an apiarian or share your knowledge with others.
Spruce up your equipment: Is your equipment in need of repairs? Now is a good time to take inventory of your bee equipment and make any necessary repairs or replace old or broken equipment. If you need new equipment, we recommend Dadant for all your beekeeping supplies.
Read up about bees and the apiary culture: On a snowy day or night, curl up with a blanket and a cup of tea (mixed with our delicious Hasselman’s Honey, of course) and immerse yourself in the world of bees.
In celebration of National Honey Month this September, Great Lakes Bee Co. Owner Genji Leclair recently shared her Habanero Honey Margarita and Healthy Honey Ball recipes on Good Day Northern Michigan on 9&10 News.
“Margaritas are basically just citrus and tequila, so you can get creative in how you make it,” Leclair told Good Day Northern Michigan hosts Sid Simone and David Lyden as she began mixing grapefruit, lime, lemon and orange juices with tequila. “What makes ours special is the habanero honey – it’s a great alternative to sugar.”
Great Lakes Bee Co. – producer of Hasselman’s Honey – was founded by Larry Hasselman in Newaygo in 1974. Leclair, who grew up on honey, took over for Hasselman when he retired eight years ago.
“I’m a honey person. When I moved to Newaygo, I popped into the local grocery store and bought the local honey. When I tasted the honey, I had to call Larry to find out why this honey was so good,” Leclair said during the live Good Day Northern Michigan segment. “From there I learned all about the honey.
“We do it exactly the same way as Larry’s done since 1974,” Leclair added. “We’ve changed nothing. It’s all delicately handled. We don’t overheat the honey at all – it’s raw right out of the hives and it’s very special because the microclimate in Newaygo is very unique with an unusual blend of flowers. We only collect and sell the honey from summer – and so you have this crazy good taste that’s different – very different. It’s just amazing honey out of Newaygo.”
For the Healthy Honey Ball • Leclair recommends having a base, such as oats (grinded) and a nut butter – peanut butter, almond butter or cashew butter. • Then pick what you would want to mix in: cacao, turmeric, cinnamon, chocolate chips, cranberry, raisins, apricots, etc. • Mix together – then add the secret ingredient: Honey • Stir and roll it into a ball with your hands, then roll a topping like, coconut shavings or pecans or other nuts, over your ball and voila!
Charcuterie, Cheese or Fruit Board • Add honey to enhance your charcuterie, cheese or fruit board flavors and pairings • Blue cheese pairs well with honeycomb • Goat cheese pairs well with lavender honey • Leclair recommends playing around with different flavors of honey: pepper honey, habanero honey, etc.
“There are different flavors in the region depending on the floral sources,” said Leclair. “You can go to northern Michigan and you’ll get a lot of star thistle, which is a little bit lighter honey, and as you head down south, you get different types of flowers so you’ll get darker and different blends. It’s fun to taste honey from all regions. I really enjoy honey – people send me honey from all over the world and it’s just crazy how different they taste from region to region.
“Even just here in Michigan, across the state from north to south, you’ll get different honey and its different in the spring than it is in the summer and the fall. You’ll get a great experience tasting honey all over the world, but especially here in Michigan, we just have a lot of flavors.”
Great Lakes Bee Co.’s Hasselman’s Honey can be found at Whole Foods Grand Rapids, Spice Merchants inside Downtown Market in Grand Rapids, Rockford Cheese Shop; and in area Spartan Stores soon. It’ll also be available at West Michigan Meijer stores starting in mid-October. All honey products, including beeswax, candles, balms, salves, can also be found line at www.GreatLakesBeeCo.com
Watch Genji Leclair’s full interview on Good Day Northern Michigan, here.
Whole Foods Market opened its first West Michigan store on Aug. 16 and features a variety of local products, including Hasselman’s Honey from The Great Lakes Bee Company. Our unprocessed, raw and unfiltered honey is collected from hives around Newaygo County, a region that specializes in honey production due to its unique environment that GLBC bees forage on, producing 150,000 pounds of Michigan honey each year.
As a local Whole Foods Market vendor, you can find GLBC’s Hasselman’s Honey, including comb honey and 3 oz. flavored honey infusions available for purchase inside the new store, 2897 Radcliff Ave SE, in Kentwood. Our honey products are currently located in the produce section, aisle four, and register seven in the check-out lanes.
If you’re as thrilled as we are about having GLBC’s Hasselman’s hometown honey in Whole Foods Market, the world’s leading natural and organic grocer, buzz on over to the store in Grand Rapids and check it out!