About 10 years ago, Josh and Jodie Kieliszewski noticed a wild swarm of bees had made a home in one of the trees on their property in rural Unionville in Michigan.
Josh Kieliszewski, an agriculture science teacher at Unionville-Sebewaing Area High School at the time, and Jodie Kieliszewski, a stay-at-home mom, watched the bees with interest. Then they started reading about them.
"We've always been into homesteading," Jodie Kieliszewski told The Saginaw News, noting that she and her husband grow vegetables and raised chickens for a while.
They purchased what's called a package of bees to get started and beekeeping became a backyard hobby for them. But when the local school cut its agriculture program and Josh Kieliszewski was laid off, they began to think about ways to turn their bees into a source of income.
Josh Kieliszewski, who found a different job in the meantime, learned how to build hives and became an expert beekeeper. Jodie Kieliszewski, who always had a creative streak, taught herself about marketing, photography, graphic design and how to run a website. They learned how to make soap, lip balm, lotion and other personal care products with beeswax, honey, royal jelly and essential oils.
"(We) slowly learned all these things ourselves and pieced it together to grow our business," Jodie Kieliszewski said.
Josh and Jodie Kieliszewski's hobby eventually turned into a full-time job for both of them. Now, they have about 30 hives containing approximately 60,000 bees each. Their company, Bee Lovely Botanicals, supports their family of five.
The Bee Lovely Botanicals product line, which includes such products as Bee Rugged Beeswax Beard Balm, Happy Camper Bar Soap, Shampoochie Dog Shampoo Bar, Angry Bees Peppermint Lip Balm, and Happy Baby Butt Butter, is sold online via the company's website and Etsy page. Bee Lovely Botanicals products also can be found at boutiques and Younkers and Carson's stores across the state, including Younkers in Bay City and Midland.
Photo courtesy of: Sean Gallup, Getty Images via WXYZ Detroit