Stromme Honey teaches 4-H members how to make beeswax candles – Agweek

Nick Stromme attended his first 4-H meeting on September 11, 2022, at the age of 45.

Stromme, from rural Hatton, North Dakota, attended our first club meeting of the new 4-H year, and the experience changed her preconception that 4-H was for kids who wanted or were raising cattle.

Stromme works as a beekeeper in his hometown of Kloten, where his father started beekeeping in 1979 and his parents raised their family of four beginning in the mid-1970s. Amidst a hectic business and family life, Nick took the time to educate, demonstrate and share his passion for beekeeping, honey and taught our 4-H members ages 8-16 how to make beeswax candles. The Cloverbuds, ages 5-7, painted bee boxes.

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Nick Stromme of Stromme Honey spoke about beekeeping at the local 4-H club in Northwood, North Dakota, on September 11, 2022. 4-H members enjoyed honey sticks provided by Stromme as they listened.

Katie Pinke/Agweek

I followed up with Nick with additional questions about his family business, chosen profession, and his observations from the 4-H meeting.

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A lesson on making beeswax candles from Nick Stromme at the Northwood Meadowlarks 4-H meeting was educational and fun for all ages. It was Stromme’s first 4-H meeting.

Katie Pinke/Agweek

“I think keeping kids involved in activities other than sports gives them more responsibility and confidence. And after attending the meeting, my first 4-H experience is much more than raising animals. The meeting went very well with the voting to elect the officers of the group and that was fun to watch. These kids are learning to participate in a group setting with respect and having fun at the same time,” Stromme said.

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A 4-H member displays the beeswax candle he made at the Northwood Meadowlarks meeting on September 11, 2022. 4-H registration is open this fall for kids to start a new 4-H year . Each county Extension office can connect interested parties with a local 4-H club for activities, projects and assorted interests for children ages 5-18.

Katie Pinke/Agweek

“I grew up with beekeeping mostly 400-500 hives. My brother, Zach, and I helped grow the bees. Helping to collect honey and preparing the hives for winter are some of the main tasks I remember. Until the late 1990s, my father wintered hives in North Dakota, which requires a lot of preparation, including wrapping the hives in insulation and feeding them so they don’t starve until the spring thaw.”

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Stromme Honey originated in the late 1970s in Kloten, North Dakota. Pictured is founder Brad Stromme, father of Nick Stromme.

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After graduating in 1999 from Mayville State University with a degree in business administration, Nick worked for three years in St. Paul, Minnesota, returning when his father had health problems in 2002 to take over the bee business. .

“I have since taken the initial 500 hives and increased them to 3,500 hives. We now take the hives to California for almond pollination and then to Texas to prepare them for summer in North Dakota. The bees are usually in North Dakota from May through November.”

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Stromme hives from North Dakota are trucked to California almond orchards in the fall for pollination.

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Although the agribusiness has its roots in honey, Nick and his wife Lisa use by-products from the hives to add additional value to their business.

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Stromme Honey is sold in select stores in North Dakota and the company is working to grow its direct-to-consumer bottling and candle business.

Katie Pinke/Agweek

“We have bee pollen, wax products, and even sell some hives to people looking for some garden hives. The pollen is collected in a special trap that pulls the pollen pellets from the bees’ legs into a drawer. It is used as a dietary supplement, provides energy, and is loaded with amino acids, vitamins, and lipids, to name a few of its many health benefits. Wax products include candles, decorations, and body lotion.

“The wax comes from the comb that we cut while harvesting the honey. It is cleaned and then melted into liquid that we pour into candle molds or mix with essential oils and other natural ingredients for body cream or balms.”

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Lisa Stromme uses honeycomb wax and bee pollen from Stromme Honey’s 3,500 hives to create numerous products that she sells locally and throughout North Dakota as a member of Pride of Dakota. Nick Stromme says that he and Lisa’s three young daughters love to “help” her mother.

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Lisa is the main wax worker, and her three daughters love to “help out” and enjoy the process, Stromme says.

“We sell the products in some local stores and we took them to the (North Dakota) State Fair in Minot this year, which was quite an experience. Lisa is great at selling wax products and worked like crazy to prepare for the State Fair and other big shows around the state. Being a member of Pride of Dakota definitely helps our products find customers.”

The challenges of the bee industry and business continue, but have changed over the years that Stromme has worked in his family business.

“When I started the biggest thing, and it still is, the threat is the varroa mite. This pest attaches to a bee like a tick to humans. It sucks the blood and then compromises the bees immune system making them weak and susceptible to other diseases. The challenge of destroying a bug in a bug is still being resolved. We control mite levels as best we can throughout the year with essential oil treatments, as well as many of the pharmaceutical treatments on the market.”

Additional challenges in the bee business for Stromme include the proper forage needed to make honey, reliable trucks, and even making sure hives are not destroyed by wild animals.

“Much of the 1990s Conservation Reserves Program is pretty much gone, so more new locations are needed every year. I try to follow the Sheyenne River and the pastures to catch more natural flowers.

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Finding reliable trucks is a challenge for numerous industries right now, including beekeeping, according to Nick Stromme of Stromme Honey.

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“As we move our hives from North Dakota to the southern states, trucking also becomes more challenging. Fuel prices are driving up shipping costs and a dwindling number of reliable truckers are taking longer to find a ride.”

A goal Stromme shared resonated with me as one that many farmers feel and strive for on their farm, ranch, or agribusiness.

He said: “The main goal is to keep the bees healthy and at a size that is manageable enough to be profitable but enjoyable.

“The growth of the bottling side of candles and honey is also what we are working on. While most of our honey is sold to large semi-load size packers, bottling more direct to customers and local stores is always a goal. More people are looking for real food straight from the source and we can provide that.”

Growing an agribusiness, adding value with additional products, and taking the time to engage the next generation at the local 4-H club level, I have enjoyed learning from Nick. The Stromme Honey bee boxes in the farmlands I know so well have a deeper understanding for me now.

Enroll your child or grandchildren in a local 4-H club this fall. Contact your county Extension office. Every county has a 4-H club waiting for your membership and active participation.

Pinke is the publisher and CEO of Agweek. You can reach her at [email protected], or connect with her on Twitter @katpinke.

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