Grown Here at Home: After more than 35 years in the restaurant business, woman finds unexpected fresh start in beekeeping

Published: Aug. 7, 2023 at 7:32 AM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - While bees are a big part of Michelle Rader’s life now, that wasn’t always the case. For over 35 years she worked in the restaurant business. When her career took an unexpected turn, while praying to know the next step to take, bees showed up in the mail.

“My bees came in a month after I left the restaurant business, so it was a great way for me to be pre-occupied while I was looking for a job that I would really enjoy,” Michelle said.

At the time, Michelle didn’t know it, but a spark of sudden interest in her dad’s beekeeping set her up for an adventure she never could have planned for herself.

“I was like, this is really cool; and he’s like I’ve got an extra hat, and I’m like okay, well, let me see what you’re doing. For my 50th birthday he bought me a hive, bought me the suit, all the tools,” Michelle explained.

She’ll tell you, becoming a beekeeper is a blessing. It’s opened so many doors of opportunity. She’s now an entrepreneur -- the owner of The Salty Bee. She sells honey and all kinds of bee products. And, just so you know, Michelle did find a job she enjoys. She now works at Green Designs in Roanoke, where you can find her bee-inspired creations. It’s a lot of change in a short amount of time, but it’s given her a new pace she didn’t know she needed.

“[The restaurant business] is hard and you don’t realize the amount of stress that you have until you don’t have it. You can focus on a lot of things that really do matter,” Michelle said.

Like the people she loves the most.

“I’ve been able to spend a lot more time with my family,” she explained.

And that’s sweeter than honey.

You can also find The Salty Bee at Three Little Birds Artisan Market and Blue Moon Vintage Mercantile.