To bee or not to bee – SMWC freshman has a sweet hobby

November 14th, 2012 | SMWC

Mallory Tanis with a beehive

For Mallory Tanis, what started as a research project quickly turned into a calling. Five years ago, Tanis, now a freshman at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC), dusted off her father’s beekeeping gear, put on a protective suit and got to work. “I was always fascinated with beekeeping,” said Tanis, a music therapy major from Lapeer, Mich. “I still am fascinated. Bees are incredible; they keep me constantly intrigued.”

Tanis’s research project gave birth to her very own small business – Mallory’s Busy Beehive. From candles to honey to custom designed gift baskets, this entrepreneur has created quite a buzz in Michigan and beyond. “I sell the bulk of my honey to restaurants,” Tanis said. “Café Muse, near Detroit, Mich., uses my honey on their grilled cheese sandwich, which was featured on Oprah!”

When she was first starting out, Tanis was just amused by the little things about her bees. Now, she loves watching her “employees” social behaviors and learning more about the life of a colony. “Bees can only sting once,” she said. “They sacrifice their lives for the colony. That’s so much dedication for such a little thing.”

Tanis harvests her honey in the fall, from four hives with about 60,000 bees in each one. In the winter, she preps each hive with sugar water. In the spring and summer she adds more bees, many of which she gets from Canada, and lets nature take its course. Since the whole community benefits from pollination, Tanis keeps hives all over Lapeer – on local farmland and near bulk stores. “The whole community has been very encouraging,” she said. “I’m very appreciative of all the support I’ve received.”

While she is at SMWC, Tanis’ father and younger brother will help her tend the bees, so production at Mallory’s Busy Beehive will remain in full swing. In fact, Tanis will be adding a line of beeswax lip balm to her inventory soon. “The wax is unpasteurized so it retains all the nutrients,” she said.

In just her first semester, Tanis, an SMWC Saint Mother Theodore Guerin Scholarship winner, has a created long list of extracurricular activities. Beekeeping, however, will always rank high on the list. “I’ll keep doing it my whole life, but only as a hobby,” she said. “It’s a great stress reliever.”

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