Hello Extraction Season

Where did the entire year go? The summer? How is it already fall?

These questions are all running through my head right now. We started extracting last weekend to fill our initial orders. We only removed one box from the hives so we have plenty left yet to extract, but we are waiting for the arrival of our new honey house!

Honey extraction 2017

This past February, we received an award from AgStar (now Compeer) for our work with our honey business, commitment to community, and sharing our story. Along with this, came a cash award. We debated a long time about what we should use it for. Ultimately, we chose to purchase a new honey house.

Our honey house is coming from a company called Pro-Shed. We went to their workshop, were given a tour of their space, toured various sizes and shapes of buildings, and then finally sat down with a salesman to go over options and what we were looking for. We had it custom built to include a few things like a porch for when we have tours (yes, tours of the honey house will be in the future!), extra windows, ramps for boxes going in and out, and more.

Our honey house will be a permanent home for our extractor, bottling tank, and other extraction supplies. We have storage built in in the top to house extra bottles and other supplies. We will be installing a sink, cupboards and a workspace area in the future as well. We are still working on a permanent location on the farm. We thought by now our barn would be gone, but waiting on permits can take forever. So it might get pushed back to next year with a temporary spot for the honey house in the meantime.

Our hopes is to not only use it ourselves, but also rent it out to other local beekeepers who need a place to extract that isn’t their garage or kitchen, complete with all the supplies they could need.

Also, new this year, you will be able to find our honey in several retail locations. Our first location announcement is Montgomery Orchard located on Hwy 99 in Montgomery. This place is such a fun place to go from the corn maze to pick your own apples, hard cider and entertainment, it is one of our favorite stops every fall!

Montgomery Orchard

Keep watching our Facebook page for updates as we patiently await our honey house and have more honey available!

How is Your Honey Different?

We recently exhibited at FEAST! in Rochester. There were 2 other honey companies there, and we got quite a few questions about how or why our honey was different.

We like to say our honey is pure. It is uncomplicated. It is simple. We don’t add anything to it. We don’t flavor it. We don’t infuse it. Our honey has no added ingredients. We don’t heat it. It goes from the frame to the bottle essentially.

We know exactly what hives our honey came from. We don’t source honey from other bee keepers that have hives. We can tell you which hives we collected from and from which of our locations it came from. With most of our hives out on a piece of RIM (Reinvest in Minnesota) ground, meaning it will always stay as wildlife habitat even if it does get sold, we know our bees are part of a bigger picture of ensuring that we as farmers, are doing the best we can for the environment.

We’d like to tell you that our honey is made with a passion behind it. The first extraction we bottled, I cried, much to my husband’s amusement. We had worked so very hard to get to that day. Raising bees is not easy. They are not set it and forget it creatures. You have to care for them like you would any type of livestock, feeding them, treating them, caring for them in lousy weather, and more. At the end of the day, you can do as much as you can possible, and still lose your entire hive.  Our honey has a lot of work behind it, with a lot of passion. We truly love doing it.

We are small. So when you are shopping with us, you truly are supporting a small business. We have 12 hives. It is just us, husband and wife, extracting and bottling honey. I suppose you might say we put Harper to work as entertainment during bottling! 🙂 We have a small number of hives that remain in Minnesota. They aren’t shipped for pollination purposes, which often means our bees have less exposure to disease, mites, and stress. We know that each hive has its quirks and which ones are stronger than others.

So when you ask us why we are different, I guess it is because we like to keep it simple. We like to keep honey uncomplicated. We like to keep honey, well, honey.

Thank you for your purchases and supporting our honey business!

-Sara

Summer Update

Suddenly I’ve realized it is Mid-July, and I’m not sure when this happened or where summer has gone.

Our chickens, or 1/2 of them at least, are officially laying eggs now! So give us a month or so, and we will also be offering eggs for sale for $3 a dozen! You can visit us at the farm and pick yours up, or we can arrange a time to meet somewhere in the area if you live close.

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Clearly, Harper is not afraid of the chickens at all. She loves going in there are and running around with the ladies. We have 1 rooster right now, who will be going to the butcher shop soon, but it has been funny listening to him learn to crow!

I was also able to plant a small garden. No produce from us to purchase this year, but maybe next year. We are looking at planting additional blueberry bushes and possibly some sweetcorn for next year. Harper hasn’t quite learned that you eat the lettuce, not throw a fit and lay down in the lettuce! I’m excited to see how my cucumbers grow and my tomatoes are thriving. Green beans and carrots are a staple in our garden. I also planted a pumpkin plant for Harper for Halloween, and a watermelon plant.

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Our 2 bossy mares on the farm, Windy and Razzy, are getting along pretty well. We have only been able to fence in a temporary pasture at the farm due to a new septic install. Their other pasture will have to be cultivated and replanted, but we can’t do that until the septic is installed and we can finalize placement of fencing.

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Housing renovations are moving along…slowly. We have officially completed: a  new roof on the house, updated plumbing, updated electrical, insulation, pulled-up carpeting, have new carpeting for 1 of 2 rooms, sheetrock installed (currently being mudded and taped), and a bid on refinishing hardwood floors. I have finalized paint for 3 rooms, and am now struggling with living room and kitchen colors. I’m also repainting all of the kitchen cabinets, we are getting new light fixtures throughout the house, and new flooring downstairs in the office and living room.  We also re-did electrical to the pole barn, cleaned out an entire shed, cleaned the garden shed, figured out we need to hook-up some plumbing for the pole-barn yet, and got a bid on rewiring the the honey house.

We have realized that this year, we will only get so far, and then next year, we will be doing things like landscaping (so please don’t mind the weeds that are all over), more building work, site preparation, etc. The house sat vacant for a year, so there has been a lot to tackle.

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These are two splits we have been babying out at the farm. We have been struggling with getting these hives moved due to flooding at two of our locations. Hopefully this weekend, these will get moved, and we will be pulling some frames from our others for extracting!

We have been able to fit in a few other things like parades, a 4th of July celebration, and swimming lessons for Harper!

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Despite all the craziness, and sometimes looking at each other wondering if we really know what we got ourselves into, we are so thankful for the opportunity to raise Harper on the farm and have a gorgeous view overlooking the fields every night.

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This is what is all about folks.

Thank you. From the bottom of our hearts, Thank you for supporting our little dream.

 

Be a Pollinator Superhero & Sponsor a Hive!

Introducing our new Pollinator Superhero program!

In 2016, you can sponsor a hive for $125 to help pollinators in Minnesota.

You will get a picture of your hive, information about your hive and bees, a 1lb jar of honey, and a chance to visit our honey house during extraction. This is a fantastic opportunity to support honeybees in Minnesota.

Find out additional details about our new program on our Hive Sponsorship page! 

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2016 Pre-Orders

We are trying something new this year. We are utilizing a pre-order form for those interested in honey. Last year we sold out so quickly that we missed some people who wanted honey.

Please fill out the form by clicking here. 

Only those that are on the pre-order form will be guaranteed honey in 2016.

 

New in fall of 2016, we will have a limited number of comb honey sections available.

2016 Pricing will be announced early summer, so watch our website and Facebook page for details!

Some of our 2015 Honey crop.

Some of our 2015 Honey crop.

Thank you again for always supporting our little family and business!

Sara, Mark, and Harper Hewitt

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Honey is Here!

We officially have honey for sale now!

Please contact us to order your honey.

Our honey is pure honey from Southern MN. Our hives are out on two different plots of land with a variety of pollen sources. We are so excited for you to give our honey a try!

We have 3 oz, 6oz and 1lb jar sizes available. the 3 & 6oz. are glass and the 1lb is a plastic squeeze bottle.

We have 3 oz, 6oz and 1lb jar sizes available.
The 3 & 6oz. are glass and the 1lb is a plastic squeeze bottle.

From our little family to yours - Thank You!

From our little family to yours – Thank You!

In the near future, we will also have beeswax available in 1oz bars, and a few other products. Watch for updates!

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Summer Update – Welcome the Newest Sweet Cheeks Family Member!

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We welcomed the newest member of our Sweet Cheeks Family, Harper Louise, on April 16. She weighed in a 6lbs 12 oz and was 21 inches long. It is hard to believe next week she will be 3 months old already! Harper’s “pet bees” chose to arrive the same day she made her appearance in this big old world, so our first weekend home was quite busy!

As you can see, she is serving as quite the mascot for Sweet Cheeks Honey already. Perfect advertising!  🙂

Our Italian bees came first, and our Russians arrived in May. We worked quickly to get hives painted and ready and get the bees out to their sites.

Our  newest site for our bees.

Our newest site for our bees.

Our Russian bees are out at our newest site. It is up the road from a stream, has 30+ acres of wildflowers and our favorite –  a melon field and veggie garden to help pollinate!

Look at that hive go!

Look at that hive go!

Our Italians are also doing greet, many needed additional hive bodies within 2-3 weeks of being out there. We will be purchasing some of our extracting equipment within the next month in preparation for honey in September!

Checkout our Facebook page for all of our latest updates!  

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Spring Bee Arrival

Our bees will be arriving in about a month! The first 2 weekends in May – one weekend for our Russians and one weekend for our Italians.

We were lucky enough to find a local supplier this year for our Italian bees – so that means we don’t have to make a 5 hour drive up to Hackensack with a newborn! I am a very relieved 38 weeks pregnant wife at that one 😉 Our Russian bees are shipped to us and will arrive via mail. That should be an interesting one, as it is our first time getting bees shipped. I have a feeling it will be a very quick transfer as they will need to be fed very quickly -a mixture of a sugary syrup.

We are busy putting together hives and getting prepped to paint them all.

unpainted bee hives

waiting to be painted

 

 

We will have to keep our two kinds of bees separate (we don’t want rouge bees mixing in hives and we also don’t want to tax certain pollination areas), so the Russian bees are actually going on a piece of land a county over to help pollinate a melon field. We are pretty excited to see how that honey turns out!

We also have been trying out making honey mead! Honey mead takes a while to ferment, so after an initial two week fermentation process, we siphoned it into the carboy where it will ferment for about the next 6 months. It has been a learning process for us both, and we were lucky enough to get some help from the experts over at Know-How Brew Shop. They set us up with everything we would need from the 5 gallon bucket, to the carboy to yeast.

Siphoning honey mead into the Carboy for fermentation.

Siphoning honey mead into the Carboy for fermentation.

We are excited for this spring and all of our new bees to arrive. We should have our first batch of honey in August, so watch for how you can get your hands on some!

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Merry Christmas from Sweet Cheeks Honey

Merry Christmas from Sweet Cheeks Honey!

Merry Christmas from Sweet Cheeks Honey!

 

Merry Christmas from Sweet Cheeks Honey! We are busy prepping for the New Year! We have lots of things happening, and are so excited to make these next few announcements in 2015. We hope you will join us on this journey and help support local honey!

May you have a wonderful holiday season full of peace, joy and love! Enjoy your time with family, friends and loved ones, and don’t forget to add some local honey to your holiday feasts!

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We’re on Facebook!

We are officially on Facebook now! Come check out our page for photos, updates and all sorts of news. We are hoping to be rolling out some exciting news that you will get to be a part of very soon!

In the mean time, you can also follow Mark and I on Twitter!

Mark tweets (not very often) with the handle @hewittfarms and I tweet over at @sborch03!

Thank you for connecting with us and following along with us! We are just as excited as you are!

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