Nate Caudill and his family have a sweet little business humming along on the banks of Sleepy Creek in Morgan County.
It’s called Sleepy Creek Honey.
It’s local honey, sourced exclusively from hives Caudill keeps on rural properties in and around Berkeley Springs, West Virginia. Packaged with care in a honey barn literally steps from Sleep Creek.
It’s 100 percent pure honey, Caudill says. “Nothing added by anyone except the bees.”
And it’s honey in the raw – “gently warmed to ease packaging — not pasteurized or exposed to high heat, which destroys most of honey’s nutritional benefits, including antioxidants, minerals and enzymes.”
Caudill grew up in Dillsburg, Pennsylvania – just north of Gettysburg. And that’s where he fell in love with bees.
“I learned the beekeeping craft not by reading books or watching videos but by putting my hands in hive boxes and working side-by-side with veterans,” he says. “Bee yards became a reliably peaceful place to retreat, and I’ve had a special relationship with bees ever since.”
He met his wife Jessie (she’s from Warfordsburg) and nine years ago they moved to Morgan County to start a family and a honey business.
Caudill says Morgan County is ideal for beekeeping.
“It’s always great to be in a place that’s not heavy with big agriculture,” Caudill says. “Herbicides are less of a problem. It’s the insecticides that are more of a problem.”
“I went from five to five to ten hives, to fifty the following year, to a couple of hundred. And now we are anywhere from 800 to 1,000 colonies right now.”
The colonies are spread around thirty-four or so properties, mostly in Morgan County.
Caudill is finding properties for his bee colonies primarily by word of mouth.
“Back in the spring, I did post a note on Facebook saying we were looking for properties to put bees on. And our inbox just blew up. Not every property worked out. But it was a great response.”
“Each of the honey production colonies this year averaged out at about 100 pounds of honey per colony,” Caudill said. “But not all of the colonies are producing honey.”
“In total this year, Sleepy Creek Honey produced just over 10,000 pounds of honey. And we are not done yet this year,” Caudill said.
Out of high school, Caudill went into the trades and became an electrician. He still works as an electrician part time, taking some jobs in the winter. But he’s pretty much full time making honey.
“I have a six year old son and three year old daughter,” Caudill said. “And my dream has been to have a business to support my family. And it’s working.”
Sleepy Creek Honey is being sold at retail outlets in Morgan County — Glascocks, Charlotte’s Cafe, Mineral Springs Trading Post, Coolfont Gift Shop, Cacapon Market, Total Image Salon, Inspired Chaos — at the Eagle Diner in Hedgesville and at butcher shops throughout the area.
It’s also being sold through the web site at sleepcreekhoney.com.
“We don’t ship honey because the shipping costs end up being more than the cost of the honey itself,” Caudill says. “If you place an order online, we have a pick up box at the end of our lane.”
Caudill also sells bee colonies for people who want to have their own bee hives.
“They are called Nucs, which is short for nucleus colonies,” Caudill says. “It’s a new colony for backyard beekeepers or someone who wants to try it. We start selling those in April or early May.”