Bear Lake’s Wee Bee Jammin’ spreads the love with an abundance of pun-friendly jams and jellies.
As an event planner in Southeast Michigan, Simone Scarpace sought temporary respite from her hectic career by taking her kids to local farms for some good old fashioned berry picking. Then, with a bushel of fresh, local berries at the ready, Scarpace would kick out the jams—blueberry, blackberry, strawberry…you name it. While her making jam was at first a seasonal hobby, these initial experiments with farm-to-table agriculture planted the seeds for her business, Wee Bee Jammin’.
Headquartered in Bear Lake (just twenty minutes south of Frankfort), Wee Bee Jammin’ offers a variety of jams and honeys. The ingredients used at Wee Bee Jammin’ are sourced in Michigan and, in some cases, personally harvested by Scarpace. “We’ll still pick wild fruit when it’s available; I have my secret spots,” says Scarpace. From the start, Scarpace has been devoted to controlling the quality of Wee Bee Jammin’s products: “If I was going to all the trouble to make jam, then I wanted to know where the fruit was coming from.” That simple philosophy has led to strong relationships with the Northern Michigan farms that provide Wee Bee Jammin’ with supplemental fruit.
For their autumn berries, Wee Bee Jammin’ relies on Paul Siers, a Mount Pleasant farmer who began cultivating the invasive autumn olive bush when he noticed a few of the plants growing by his home. Siers’ homemade autumn berry puree is the main ingredient in Wee Bee Jammin’s Ugly Agnes jam, the name of which refers to autumn olive’s difficult-to-pronounce scientific name, Elaeagnus umbellata.
“We try to keep it light-hearted,” says Scarpace, whose other creations include the multi-fruit flavored Toe Jam and Wee Bee Jammin’s star thistle honey, Flower Power. As for the inspiration behind naming Wee Bee Jammin’? Scarpace says that she and her husband can’t agree whether he or she came up with the name. But, for the record, she’s quite convinced she did.
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