Member Feature: Honey Lodge

Lakota Youth Development’s Honey Lodge is located in the Herrick, SD within the Milks Camp Community of the Rosebud Indian Reservation. Honey Lodge is a youth-led social enterprise that develops Lakota youth’s entrepreneurial skills as youth keep bees, process & bottle honey, and sell their products online and at local events.

The inception of Honey Lodge came from the innovation of Lakota youth after they learned about the desperate need to keep bees as the world’s bee population was drastically depleting. Our youth seek to help bring Grandmother Earth back into balance with herself as they have made relatives with our Honey Lodge bees. Since 2015, Honey Lodge has increased from 5 hives to 50 and we have sold our products in over 30 states across the nation and helped develop Lakota youth into community leaders, counselors, mentors, and small business owners.

Honey Lodge is a youth-led social enterprise that keeps bees, process & bottle honey, and makes beeswax candles and lip balm.

Our youth are so proud of their enterprise that we have a map at our facilities where they pin every place that their products have been delivered to. Our goal for 2020 is to sell our products in all 50 states and we only have several states to go! Our products are great gifts for others. Currently, we have bottles of honey (quart, pint, & 2 oz), beeswax candles, lip balm, and vinyl stickers. We would love the support from you to purchase our products and recommend our products to friends and relatives across the country.

Honey Lodge booth showcase at the 2018 S.D. Tourism Conference Event.

Honey Lodge is seeking funding opportunities to build our own honey processing building on our facilities. A honey processing building would allow us to produce our honey faster and would allow our enterprise to expand the number of hives on our facilities. The profits support Lakota youth by helping to fund Lakota Youth Development’s youth programming and services that are located on our 10 acre facilities.

Throughout the process of launching Honey Lodge and sustaining the enterprise, we have realized that there is still a lot of education to be done about what raw honey is and the health benefits of the product, especially within our local communities. Honey Lodge has been invited to speak at local food conferences within South Dakota and we are even invited to the Oregon Honey Festival in May of 2019. Honey Lodge is committed to educating our communities about the need for natural habitats for bees which is a pesticide-free environment. From the youth’s observations of the bees and their hives they are able to learn about the natural cycles of work and rest along with how to work together as the hives work to pollinate, produce honey, and keep each other safe. These are important life lessons that give our youth the opportunity to connect with their environment as they gain entrepreneurial skills.

Jerome Kills Small, LYD Board Member, sings bee song to bless hives on our facilities.

Our staff spent several days attempting to catch a swarm of bees on our facilities. Swarms usually happen because a hive has developed two queens, but there can only be one queen per hive. We understood that the most important step in the process of catching a swarm is to make sure you have caught the queen and all the other worker bees will follow. This swarm was located in the branches of a tree. So early in the morning, we suited up in our gear and set off to catch the swarm. We attempted to shake them out of the tree and brush them out. Several hours and many bee stings later, we find our swam now on the ground. After trying to scoop and brush our hives from the ground we finally sought guidance from some of our beekeeping friends. We’ve since learned that to catch a swarm on the ground you just need to set your hive box on top of the hive. This ensures that you have your queen and bees will naturally climb up into the hive box.

We are excited to develop new products! After our harvest seasons, we will begin to make infused honey with wild prairie medicinals which can be used for a variety of ailments. We are most excited for this product as it blends traditional medicinals into our delicious raw honey! Especially as cold and flu season fastly approaches, we are working on developing a recipe for our own honey cough drops along with lotion bars and hand soap.