Henry’s honey: Teen has a passion for beekeepingMar 3rd, 2011 | Category: Community
by Jessica Harbert
Each year when Henry Miller starts school his teacher asks the students to write down one interesting fact about themselves. Henry said he has many facts about himself that his teachers have a hard time believing, but the 13-year-old often writes that he owns his own business. And no one ever believes him. But he surprises his teacher and classmates when he tells them about his business, Henry’s Sweet Miracle Honey.
Henry was sitting next to a man on an airplane two years ago, and they began talking. As it turned out the man is a beekeeper, and he and Henry began discussing the importance of bees. Henry soon learned about colony collapse disorder, a problem putting the existence of bees in danger.
“Bees pollinate the crops, so without them there would be no food,” Henry said. “It’s critical. If we don’t solve this problem humanity will be in trouble.”
As a result of Henry’s passion to help with this problem, a portion of the profits from Henry’s honey is donated to the Preservation of Honey Bees.
There are so many mysteries about bees. Not only do bees do everything in the dark, you must approach the bees with love because they can sense fear, Henry said.
“I know I need to be calm,” Henry said. “But I often go running from the bees.”
Henry’s honey is a raw product, meaning it is not heated over 120 degrees or watered down, he said. The raw honey is more likely to crystallize, but that doesn’t mean it goes bad, Henry said. It just needs to be heated up. Pasteurized honey doesn’t have the same benefits and nutritional values as raw honey.
All the honey is produced locally, and any honey used from other hives Henry and his family gets the product from Skagit County bee keepers, Denise said.
The company sells both pure honey and a line of special spicy honey, called “Stingers” including Grumpy Grandpa, a spicy red pepper and garlic honey, Phoebe’s Fireball, a chipotle Chile and cinnamon honey and Naughty Nana, a spicy pepper and ginger honey. These are good for cooking and marinating, or on toast or with cheese.
Living on 40 acres of property in Deming, Henry and his family have a lot of pets, including dogs, cats, Miracle the donkey, a llama, goats, sheep, chickens and thousands of bees. Miracle, the family’s donkey, almost inspired Henry to go with Henry’s Sweet Ass Honey, but to make it more “mom-friendly” Henry said they switched it to Henry’s Sweet Miracle Honey. But to not let the name mislead customers the honey doesn’t have magical powers.
The business is a family operation with Henry, his mom Denise Miller and his dad Tom Roberts, doing all the work to keep the business running.
“I have no problem telling people I work for my son,” Denise said.
All the business duties are done by the family. Henry’s dad designs the labels, Denise does demonstrations and Henry writes all the copy.
“We are learning lots about starting a business,” Denise said. “We do as much as we can together.”
In Washington State, there are several other honey producers. Some have been around for generations. But Henry and his family are learning a lot about their new endeavor.
“We are the new kids on the block,” Denise said. “We are in awe of every detail and are learning.”
In March, Denis and hopefully Henry, if he can take the time from school, will travel to the Natural Foods West Expo in Anaheim, CA to continue telling people about their special honey products.
“We have got an overwhelming response,” Denise said. “It is really phenomenal for us.”
Right now, four local stores currently sell Henry’s Sweet Miracle Honey products including Nelson’s Market, the Everybody Store in Van Zandt and the Country Store.
For more information, visit www.henryssweetmiraclehoney.com. The site includes recipes and Henry’s products. Denise Miller’s blog,As the Butter Churns, can be found at http://www.asthebutterchurns.com/.
Jessica Harbert is a freelance writer and lives in Bellingham.