The Story Behind Miel
The story behind Miel begins many years ago. Beekeeping has been in the Walters family for several generations. Great-Great-Grandpa Albert Walters had bees in southwest Wisconsin in the early 1900s. His son, Orville, continued the tradition by harvesting honey from wild bees in Madagascar. Mark, Orville’s son, started beekeeping in 1976. He and Sharilyn lived in St. Paul, MN near the U of M Farm Campus. They moved to Madagascar in 1982. Of course, the Walters took hive bodies and equipment with them to begin beekeeping in Southern Madagascar.
The Story Moves Into the Fourth Generation
The Walters were without bees for a period of time after returning to the US in 1993. Then in 2007, the story behind Miel expanded. Mark’s son, Zach, the fourth generation, wanted to start them up again.
Zach was a professional boxer at the time. Looking at the amount of money he spent on honey for his diet got him thinking. As a result, he remembered the days of beekeeping with his dad in Madagascar. Zach thought it would be fun to start keeping some bees again. We could keep bees ourselves for the amount he’d spent on honey that year.
At the end of the year, he wasn’t off by much. The season started out with four bee hives. Later that summer honey started coming in strong and we had a ton of it! We started giving it away and selling it here and there to recoup the start-up costs.
Evolving into Miel
Very quickly we found out that other folks liked our honey as much as we did! In the following summer, the Walters learned of the Duluth Farmers Market on 3rd Street. Our first day there we sold over 100 bottles honey! In fact, the demand was so great we could not keep up. The next year we saved up for more hives. Now we could have enough honey to keep up with the demand at the market! Since 2013 we have maintained 25-30 hives each year.
See whats happening in the hives!
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Anna and Albert Walters
Viroqua, WI circa 1955
2017 Solar Eclipse
as seen through honeycomb
The Story Behind Miel Continues….
After the expansion, we found that having as many as 30 hives produced a lot of beeswax. Sharilyn, who is allergic to bee venom, wanted to get involved in the honey business. It only seemed logical to give her the beeswax. At first she only made beeswax candles.
One day, Zach’s boxing trainer brought him an empty bottle of beeswax-based lotion. Jack asked if we could make this kind of lotion. Zach said, “I’ll ask my mom what she thinks and get back to you.” Wouldn’t you know, she found lots of information on making beeswax-based lotions.
Sharilyn developed her own formula and started to produce lotions for sale with the honey at the Duluth Farmer’s Market. This is when Zach’s wife, Shannon, stepped in. Shannon was able to use her graphic design skills to develop a look for the Miel product line, designing the labels and marketing tools that were needed. Sales for lotion took off right away!
It didn’t take long until Sharilyn found recipes for lip balm made from beeswax and lanolin. Once again, she developed her own all natural formula. Lip balm sales took off like a brush fire! Next Sharilyn turned her attention to researching recipes for beeswax-based soap. As a result, soap sales have been added to the mix.
Miel listens to you…!
We listen to our customers. If we keep hearing “I wish you had ……” then Sharilyn goes into research mode to test the possibilities! As a result, we introduced Paw Protector for pets and a Wood Finish for antiques, butcher block tables and counters or other unfinished furniture.
With a variety of products now developed, Sharilyn and Shannon lintroduced the idea for gift baskets. Together they worked on the packaging ideas for the baskets, making sure to keep the “country feel” that is characteristic of Miel products. Both women already loved craft-making as a hobby; creating the gift baskets has been a natural extension of their crafting abilities. No surprise that this works well to keep the family close.
The Story Behind Miel Becomes a Business!
In late 2010, Nate Radoush approached Zach about getting involved in the Miel business. Nate and his business partner, Phil Zastrow, saw the potential in Miel and offered their business expertise. On November 19, 2010 Miel, LLC was born!
With the help of Nate and Phil over the next 4-6 years, we began to get our products into store fronts across the Northland of Minnesota. In fact, this website is one of the ideas brought forth by them. Our customers enjoy the inside look at our business as well as easy access to Miel products online! Orders come in from literally all over the world!
Currently, we have jars with cut honeycomb, plastic squeeze bottles, and traditional glass Muth jars, honey sticks and more! Miel has gift baskets and gift sachets of our honey and beeswax products. Mark mentors many people one on one each year. In 2020, Mark and Sharilyn’s daughter, Vanessa Roers, joined the business and became our production manager.
The Miel Family
The family is doing what we can to help spread the fun of beekeeping. It is an element that has kept us close as a family! Moreover, Zach and Vanessa established their families! Therefore, Miel is now training in the Fifth Generation! After all, bees are super important to our existence. In the end, it’s amazing to see how a simple hobby has grown into a small family business.
Miel is a long standing family activity
Mark's sister, Phyllis, helps with Festival of the Season
Axel helping with Soaps!
Caden helping with Beekeeping!
Our Minnesota Honey and Natural Beeswax Products
We pride ourselves in our great tasting Minnesota honey and 100% all natural beeswax products. We have specifically selected each ingredient that goes into our products to be free from any man-made chemicals and safe for the whole family. Experience the benefits of beeswax in our lip balms, lotions, candles, and soaps.