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The Heidi B Show

Mar 4, 2021

Get Your Honey: From Academic to Entrepreneur with Lee Hedgmon

Life takes unexpected turns. We do things only to find out later they’re not for us, and it takes a lot of bravery to step off that path and start a new journey.

In this episode, Lee Hedgmon joins us to share how her business, The Barreled Bee, became what it is today. She talks about starting from a brewery and later moving on to a distillery. She also explains how she first worked with honey and how her business developed from it.

If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur and want to learn more about how Lee paved the way for her business, then this episode is for you.

Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:

  1. Gain valuable insights from Lee’s journey of being an academic to having a business selling honey products.
  2. Learn more about the various products of The Barreled Bee.
  3. Discover the challenges that Lee faced as an entrepreneur.


  • My first book, Relationship Ready: How I Stopped Fucking Randos and Started Cupcaking My Soulmate, is available on Amazon and Audible.
  • FREE workbook! Apply the lessons you learn from this episode as you listen! Subscribe to my mailing list, and I'll send it right away!
  • The Barreled Bee: Website | Instagram

Episode Highlights

From Academia to Brewery

  • While she was in grad school, Lee was teaching. She took up homebrewing as a stress-reliever while doing her dissertation.
  • When she moved back to Portland, she joined a homebrew club at Portland State.
  • Lee worked at a friend’s winery and met some people who owned a brewery, which collaborated with homebrewers.

Distilling and Lee’s Interest in Honey

  • Lee did brewery for almost ten years before getting into distilling.
  • She knows the distilling process because perfuming was one of her interests; the distillation process was the same for alcohol. 
  • Lee has always dealt with honey. She is an amateur mead or honey winemaker.
  • A friend offered her a spoonful of honey, and she found the taste enjoyable.
  • Different kinds of honey on different barrels piqued her curiosity. 

Taking Your Next Step

  • Lee got barrels from people she knew in the industry.
  • She started her first experiment with a barrel of bourbon and honey.
  • She thought of a name and set her company up in a matter of days.
  • Her first product release was in December 2017. 
  • Lee had to write her own business plan and struggled from the lack of outside funding. 

The Barreled Bee’s Products

  • The company sells packaged barreled honey.
  • Lee created cocktail-inspired honey sticks, Buzz Stix, based on a cocktail called Honey Drop. 
  • In the future, she wants to do a coffee chocolate martini. 
  • She has never produced a product she didn’t like or didn’t work. Lee knows and is familiar with the ingredients she uses. 
  • Lee also worked with a local potter to create a multi-purpose dish. You can use it to mix sauces and honey. It also has a spout four pouring.

About Bees

  • Bees don’t travel far. You can find their hives within a 3-to-5-mile radius. 
  • Bees and honey-making give you a fantastic snapshot of the place and time held in the honey.
  • Honey can have different tastes depending on what plants grow in what season.
  • Lee took up beekeeping because people were asking her about bees. She wanted to be able to answer technical questions.
  • An educational apiary called Being at Home tends to her hives when she is busy. 

The Challenges of Being an Entrepreneur and Business Owner

  • Delegating is challenging. Trust is important.
  • Lee spends most of her time doing vision work. She usually delegates the administrative work to someone else. 
  • Getting her ideas acknowledged keeps her going.
  • Lee loves a challenge. She wants to figure out how to make unfamiliar products people would buy.

Lee’s Routine and Non-Negotiables

  • Lee is a busy bee. She’s a morning person and works as early as 5 am, six days a week.
  • She enjoys her job, and it’s never hard for her to get to work.
  • Lee started doing intermittent fasting and does it every single day.
  • Coffee and herbal supplements are everyday essentials for her. 
  • Lee tries not to have too many non-negotiable things because her days aren’t set.

Lee’s Advice to Women

  • Take ten minutes to criticize and be angry at yourself.
  • Limit yourself to that time—nothing more and nothing less—then move on.

5 Powerful Quotes from this Episode

“If you ever need help with anything. Give me a call. You don't have to pay me. So many people have helped me on my journey to get all these places.”

“I was like, ‘Is that all you're gonna give me?’ She goes, ‘Oh, yeah, that's it.’ And so I take this tiny little stingy spoonful. And I, I taste it. And I go, ‘Oh, this is really interesting.’”

“Bees are magical in a sense. In a whole lot of ways. But one of the ways that I absolutely love them is because bees like to--they don't want to travel far.”

“I took up beekeeping because people were asking me about bees and I wanted to be able to answer their questions, those kinds of technical questions about beekeeping that people were asking, but also I thought I should know more.”

“The hardest part about this business has been doing everything myself and learning to do everything myself. But also recognizing that there's some things I just can't do. I just have to. Understanding what my skill sets are and what my strengths are.” 

About Lee

Lee Hedgmon is the founder of The Barreled Bee. She is a recovering academic who turned her homebrewing hobby into a career as a professional brewer before moving into distilling. She keeps bees and runs her own business in making barrel-aged honey and honey products. Lee regularly gives talks on using honey and fermentation and how to choose and taste honey.

You can reach out to Lee through her website and Instagram. You also purchase Barreled Bee products at Freeland SpiritsBlackthorn Mercantile, and Abbey Creek Winery.

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To being relationship ready,

Heidi B