The meadery is owned and operated by the Bellaire-native VanSice siblings. Jeremy and Chris craft the mead, Paige handles marketing and sales and Parker is in charge of maintenance. Working together with Imperial Beverage, the VanSices have distributed their mead and cider to almost 200 accounts throughout Michigan—as far north as Marquette and south to Kalamazoo.
And on Saturday, October 1, Bee Well will be opening the doors to its Bellaire tasting room. Several of Bee Well’s products have already won awards including King’s Hard Cider, Antrim Apple Pie, Family Tree, King’s Cherry and White’s Hard Cider. Other drinks to try: Hopped Honey, a slightly sweet honey wine; Cherry Vanilla mead; and Ginger Peach mead made with local peaches, honey and ginger.
Working with area farmers such as King Orchards and New Mission Organics is a big part of the business. Bee Well’s bees travel to local orchards and farms to pollinate crops and create true Northern Michigan honey. Working with those same local farmers, the fruit used in Bee Well products is sourced as close to the meadery as possible.
Before the big opening, we chatted with Paige VanSice for more on mead making, siblings and the importance of supporting area farmers.
How did the VanSice family get into mead making?
“Jeremy and Chris have been brewing for years—beer, soda pop. Jeremy was making ginger ales and root beers for family functions, open houses, etc., when he ran across some old beekeeping equipment in a family shed. A family friend showed Jeremy the apiarist ropes, and when the bees were introduced, mead was a pretty natural next step in their love for brewing.”
What makes your products stand out?
“We see our process from start to finish. We’re harvesting honey, we’re maintaining orchards, we’re picking and pressing our own apples, and using fruit that is local to Michigan, and in many cases, local to our own county. We are a family who is passionate about our process, and we hope that is obvious. We were asked recently one of our biggest goals as a company, and we agreed that staying hands-on and educated is a huge part of what we consider success. Also, maintaining relationships with our accounts, farmers, and communities is what keeps us loving what we do.”
Why is it important to you to use local fruit as much as possible?
“It goes without saying that supporting local farms is our responsibility. We thrive seeing family farms growing fruit to contribute to another family’s dream. Michigan has some of the best apples and cherries in the country, and seeing local bees pollinating the trees where you’re getting your fruit—there is no better assurance that you are doing your part to support sustainable agriculture.”
Bee Well truly is a family business. How is it working with your siblings?
“We are best buds, so we know we have an unusual bond that we are grateful for every day. We have all, by now, learned what we are good at, what our niche in the company is, and we run with our best. We all contribute different ideas, ways of working, thinking, and representing. There are differences, naturally, but at the end of the day, our goals and drive remain at the forefront.”
What’s your connection to Northern Michigan?
“We were all raised and attended school in Bellaire. We have great community support that is unmatched. We have a natural love for the Chain O’ Lakes area and appreciate that Northern Michigan is an up and coming tourist destination. There is a lot of joy that comes from meeting new people from all over the world, and sharing our love for our home.”
The Bee Well Meadery tasting room is at 3533 Derenzy Rd. in Bellaire. Call 231-533-MEAD, or email [email protected].
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