in partnership
17-year-old Henry Miller lives in Deming, WA on his parents farm. (Image: Henry's Humdingers)

Celebrate National Honey Bee Day with a young local beekeeper

Maybe being young and impressionable isn't such a bad thing.

Henry Miller was 11 and on a flight from California to his home in Deming, WA when he struck up a conversation with the man sitting next to him.

"My mom got up to go to the bathroom, and we just started chatting," said Miller. "He was a beekeeper, and I was immediately into it."

After talking the rest of the flight, learning about bees, the traffic Colony Collapse Disorder that so often takes their lives, honey, and some scary stats - Miller was officially hooked.

"He had me when he said that if bees ever went extinct, we as humans would only last for seven more years," said Miller. "They mean so much more to the environment than people know."

For his 12th birthday he asked for, and received, his own beehive.

"I watched a bunch of YouTube videos about the beekeepers who went in to tend to the bees without a mask," said Miller. "So I thought I could do that. Needless to say I got stung a million times - and what's worst is that the next day was my school band's picture day."

Now he always wear a mask. Despite that trauma, Miller kept at it, and pretty soon it became a family hobby. One hive turned to six on their 40-acre farm in Deming.

"The bees were flourishing! We had more honey than we knew what to do with," said Miller. "So we started making spicy honey and selling it on the side of the road."

Six years later, Henry's Humdingers is in full swing with four flavors of spicy honey and more on the way. Now 17, Miller runs the business with his mom and dad.

"It's a family business," said Miller. "You should see our kitchen. Everything, everything - is sticky."

Keeping it a family business is important enough to the Millers to reject a 'Shark Tank' deal they were offered by judges Mark Cuban and Robert Herjavec. Cuban was interested in moving the company to Dallas, and Herjavec wanted to use some honey from Canada. Even though he accepted the deal on air, when it came to signing the contracts Miller started realizing what giving up control of the company really meant - and he and his family decided not to.

Fitting with the theme of family in Miller's life, it makes sense that all four of the Henry's Humdinger flavors are representative of actual family members.

Grumpy Grandpa: Spicy Red Pepper and Garlic Raw Honey
"I actually did have a grumpy Grandpa. He passed away in January - but he used to tell me to get a girlfriend all the time," said Miller.

Naughty Nana: Spicy Pepper and Ginger Raw Honey
"She'd never admit it, but my Nana is known to cheat at cards," said Miller. "She used to get away with it when I was younger - now, not so much."

Phoebe's Fireball: Chipotle Chili and Cinnamon Raw Honey
"My cousin Phoebe is the sassiest person I've ever met," said Miller.

Diabolical Dad: Habanero and Lime Raw Honey
"This one is after my Dad, the jokester," said Miller. "He's always cracking jokes. All the labels are watercolors by him; he's our art department!"

On deck is Momma Jamma, for his Mom.

"She was there from the beginning on the plane, and doesn't get why she doesn't have a flavor yet!" said Miller.

In addition to being a businessman, Miller is a fulltime student with dreams of college, high school cheerleader and former competitive gymnast. He and his Mom have been traveling around the country trying to land more retailers to carry his line (they have over 300 so far!).

"My main goal with Henry's Humdingers was to help save the bees, and our family farm," said Miller. "My family has a hard time."

A portion of all sales goes to The Foundation for the Preservation of Honey Bees. You can buy any flavor of Henry's spicy raw honey online or at select stores ($6 per jar).