Fort Wayne — Cindy Sheets, 48, and her daughter, Sadye Howald, 23, run Sweet Life Honey Farm and The BeeHive in Huntington County.
Sheets, a surgical nurse at Dupont Hospital, says the business was created in order to help her fruit trees.
“There’s a few fruit trees planted in the front yard,” she explains. “We had blooms but no fruit. Someone suggested bees. We fell in love with the bees, and it took off from there. The bees right now are in Texas. They’ll be here in April. We spread them out around here, close to home and surrounding counties.”
And the choice of the business name says a lot about the women. “We decided we wanted to live a sweet life from now on,” Sadye says.
Sheets says the business was formerly known as Majenica Creek Honey Farm. They started in 1991, but The BeeHive has been open since June, she says. “I’ve wanted to do it for years and things fell into place. We have a lot of things (on to do) list.”
Sheets’ looks over at her daughter and says, “We have a huge list. We want to add a fruit market and tours.”
“Something educational, more classes,” Sadye says.
Sheets’ daughter also raises queen bees and ships them all over the United States.
“I’ve been doing it a while. I just never knew how much I liked it until last summer,” she says.
In addition to honey, patrons will find honey flavored candies and baked goods at The BeeHive (5386 W. 200 S. in Huntington) for sale. There are also honey and beeswax soaps, lip balms, lotion bars and other body care products.
Not all the honey on display is the same color. Sheets says that honey may come in different colors because of the seasons. While spring is a light shade, fall is darker and summer is usually a medium shade.
“All honey can be different colors, but last year it was too dry and we didn’t have any fall honey. But we had spring and summer,” she says.
In baking, Sheets replaces honey for sugar.
“To substitute honey for sugar in baked goods we suggest starting with only substituting half of the sugar,” she says. “Start with decreasing the sugar by half and using honey in (its) place. You should also decrease liquids by 1/4 cup for each 1 cup of honey used and try adding a 1/2 teaspoon baking soda for each 1 cup of honey used. Honey will often cause things to brown quicker so the oven may need to be adjusted along with the baking time. We like to start by decreasing the temp in the oven by 25 degrees.”
Q. What’s your favorite cookbook?
Cindy: Our house burned down three years ago. I used to have a cookbook filled with favorite recipes by ladies of the church I used to go to, but I lost it in the fire.
Q. What do you do to keep meals healthy?
Cindy: We eat lot of vegetables. And we try not to use oil in our cooking.
Sadye: We cook our vegetables in a little honey and garlic powder.
Cindy: Instead of using margarine, butter or oil, while making vegetables on the stove top try using 1 to 2 teaspoons of honey. This really brings out the flavor of the vegetable and it takes out the fat.
Q. Who would you say is your cooking idol?
Cindy: I always said my grandma, the late Charlotte Goodwin. She taught me to make noodles. She made Lefse, it’s a Norwegian recipe according to my grandma. My mom, Charlene Sheets, continues that tradition and makes that for my birthday.
Q. What’s something people would not find in your refrigerator?
Cindy: I don’t know what’s not in our refrigerator. Fish. I know it’s healthy, but it never tastes fresh to me. I like ocean fish, if it’s fresh.
Q. What one word would describe your cooking style?
Sadye: You’re a country cook or homestyle.
Cindy: From scratch.
Q. If you were stuck on an island, what’s one food you would have to have?
Cindy: I want a coconut tree so I could survive for the rest of my life. Coconut milk, toasted coconut, coconut shrimp. Or honey bees because they would be producing honey.
Q. What advice would you give beginner cooks?
Cindy: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. If you burn one sheet of cookies, oh well, dog biscuits.
6 green tea bags
Water, for steeping and mixing
1/2 cup of raw honey
Steep green tea bags for about 20 minutes. Remove tea bags and while tea is still warm, add raw honey. Mix and add ice and water to make one gallon. Serve. Makes 1 gallon.
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon mustard
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Mix all ingredients together. Makes 3/4 cup.
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup honey
Whip with electric mixer until blended well. Makes 1 cup.