Madie Reed’s buzzing business


PCM is home to many students with interesting hobbies. Sophomore Madie Reed has transformed her hobby of beekeeping into a successful business called The Mad Bee. It is located in Prairie City, Iowa. Reed’s bees provide her with a plentiful amount of things to sell. The Mad Bee’s main product is honey, but Reed also makes beeswax candles and plans to make chapstick in the future. In addition to those, she also advertises her business with The Mad Bee t-shirts. Reed has been running her business for the past two years and has no plans of stopping anytime soon. 

“My aunt has bees and she told me about the Iowa Honey Producers Association (IHPA). They have a scholarship for people ages 13-16 and they give you a starter kit, basically, for bees. I applied, and I got it. They give you a package of bees, which is basically ten thousand bees. They give you the full hive and you have to build it. They give you frames for a full hive, a bee suit, a smoker, hive tools and all that,” said Reed. 

The Mad Bee’s star product, honey, has a very unique and intriguing creation process. When asked how she made honey, Reed replied, “I don’t make it, the bees do!” The bees ingest nectar and store it in their honey stomach. Once it gets to the right moisture content, the bees spit it out into a cell, fan it with their wings, and cap it. To harvest the honey, Reed cuts off the capping and puts them in a spinner so the honey flies out. After that, the honey is strained one final time before it is bottled and ready to be sold. 

Reed expanded The Mad Bee’s market this year when she started participating in the Prairie City farmer’s market. She participated in it for three weeks and sold 21 jars of honey. Reed keeps a spreadsheet of everyone who buys her honey so she knows who to reach out to when honey is ready to be sold. As an experienced beekeeper, Reed has good advice for up-and-coming beekeepers.  

“Do it. It’s a lot of work, but it pays off,” said Reed, and,  “Wear proper gear!”

One of the most surprising things about Reed is that she is allergic to bees. She was unaware of her allergy when she first started beekeeping. 

“I got stung in the finger and then I got hives all over, like not bee hives, you know. My hand swelled up like the ‘Spongebob’ balloon hand.” Before she found out she was allergic to bees, Reed tended her hives in a t-shirt, shorts and flip-flops. However, her mom now makes sure she is in proper beekeeping gear to prevent her from getting stung again. 

When Reed started her beekeeping adventure, she had one hive that consisted of a measly 10 thousand bees. She currently has four hives that house a sum of about 200 thousand bees in the peak summer months. The future of The Mad Bee and its 200 thousand employees looks very positive.

“Well, right now I’m planning on keeping them [the bees] but we’ll see what the future holds,” said Reed.