Words and Photos by Lindsay Strong
The honeybee has long been looked to as a symbol for community, a reminder of the importance of home and the necessary beauty of the natural world as it exists immediately around us. For bees, the local environments from which they come have a direct impact on the honey they make. The flowers and herbs that grow in abundance around the hives create the unique and interesting flavor profiles we can detect when we eat the sweet sticky substance we know and love. For Worker B, operating out of the Northrup King building in Northeast Minneapolis, all parts of the hive operations are important.
Worker B is a small operation run by four people along with a few retail employees at their store in the Mall of America. In many ways, the business started by accident. While working in a honey house, one of the founders, Liesa, noticed that her own skin issues started to heal. With this in mind, she began formulating products in her own kitchen and sharing them with friends and family. It wasn’t long before the hobby blossomed into the business it is today. The cornerstone of Worker B is their face and body products. Every product is still made by hand and with the hope of being actually beneficial. One of the core values of their business is to make products that “simplify people’s lives and that actually work.” Every product is lovingly made by hand because, “the integrity of our products is something we hold very dear.” This homegrown and local mentality is one that echoes throughout Worker B and everything they make and do.
For Worker B, the idea of locality expands beyond the borders of Minnesota and encompasses a wider scope of local bee farmers. Because the taste of honey relies on the kinds of plants bees have access to, the honey that is so sweetly displayed and sold allows customers to become acquainted with flavors from all corners of the globe. For Worker B, it is “the local attitude without being about the geography. A local beekeeper in Kentucky is local in their own community.” By accessing local farmers from different communities, Worker B is providing access to new and interesting flavors for Minnesotans who might not otherwise know what honey made from citrus flowers or small wildflowers from the mountainsides of the Pacific Northwest taste like. Co-founder and owner Michael refers to this model as being “more about the local mentality.”
The geographic flexibility in this local mentality means that everyone has access to the nostalgia of place and taste. Michael recounted a time in which, after a taste of honey, a woman swelled with pride and joy as she felt transported to her childhood in China. There is a worthy acknowledgement of humanness even in jars of honey, that because we all come from different places, we can be locals in many all at once and connect with nature in all of them.
Every aspect of Worker B is built by a desire to create and sell high quality products and to remind their customers of the importance of the delicate ecosystems involved. The pollinators who work so hard and allow us access to these incredibly healing and delicious products are also on the forefront of Worker B’s mind. Hanging in their retail spaces and going along with them to markets and craft events, are T-shirts and sweaters inviting others to “Protect Our Pollinators.” Part of the integrity of this company that makes it so impactful is that they care as much about the creatures that make their products possible as they do the customers who buy them.
From their creams and lotions to their face washes, body scrubs, and plethora of honey, Worker B’s products are all carefully and sustainably made by hand and with both their devoted customers and bee friends in mind. Every part of the operation is done with heart and soul and maintains the hope it all started with—that they create options for people that work. I can say from my own personal experience using and loving Worker B’s products that they do indeed work to simplify the process and actually heal.