Bon Bon Bon expands to bigger chocolate shop, factory

Bon Bon Bon expands to bigger chocolate shop, factory

 

Stephanie Steinberg, The Detroit NewsPublished 11:29 p.m. ET July 10, 2017 | Updated 11:29 p.m. ET July 10, 2017

The world-renowned chocolate shop is moving to a historic building in Hamtramck. The grand opening is July 19

 

The Bon Bon Bon employees, known as the Babes Babes Babes, suited up to check out the honey bees located on the roof of the new shop in Hamtramck. The nonprofit Bees in the D partnered with Bon Bon Bon to produce honey that will be used for the chocolates.

Hamtramck — Bon Bon Bon has said bon voyage to its first chocolate shop in Hamtramck and moved into a new space that’s affectionately nicknamed “The Building Building Building.”

The chocolate shop is opening a bigger factory and shop in Hamtramck on its third birthday, July 19. Founding Chocolatier Alex Clark is especially proud that her new 6,000-square-foot space is a historic building on Jos. Campau.

She said a fire swept through the building in 1966, damaging the walls and floors. The building remained ravaged for decades until Clark started restoring it a year ago. As a tribute to its past, she kept certain remnants, like a wall that bears the fire’s destruction.

The 29-year-old Hamtramck resident unearthed pieces of history while renovating the first and second floors.

“We found a newspaper article in the wall that recorded 47 or 48 people being arrested in the upstairs of our building. That part is pretty crazy,” she said, guessing the building was once a speakeasy. “A lot of people’s grandparents have stories about this building and being here to gamble.”

Hamtramck Mayor Karen Majewski has followed Bon Bon Bon’s success since it opened on Evaline in 2014 and said she’s delighted Clark decided to make Hamtramck her “permanent home.”

“She sees what I and so many others see in Hamtramck: a vibrant, diverse and quirky little city with opportunity to experiment, to take a chance on a dream, and to become part of a true community in the process,” Majewski said. “Alex sets an example for others who are looking for opportunity, and she proves that that opportunity exists in Hamtramck.”

Bon Bon Bon’s enlarged production space, which is 10 times bigger than the original shop, will present new opportunities to handcraft the Bons that come in rotating flavors. Fan favorites like Better Butter Crunch (Better Made potato chips with milk chocolate and sea salt) and Birthday Cake (birthday cake ganache, buttercream frosting and sprinkles) are usually constants on the menu.

“It does allow us to use different techniques we couldn’t do before because we didn’t have the space to house the equipment,” Clark said. “So rather than making more Bons, it lets us make higher quality Bons and be more creative than we were before.”

Clark has also expanded the number of employees, known as the Babes Babes Babes, to 16 and will offer a new e-commerce option to “shop bonline.”

Another bonus Clark is excited about: They can now grow produce, such as herbs and fruits, on the roof.

“There’s nothing better to a chocolatier than being able to run outside and pick whatever you need,” Clark said.

Besides the plants, Clark partnered with the nonprofit Bees in the D to install two beehives on the roof. The honey will be incorporated in the Bons.

Bees in the D founder Brian Peterson, 42, has installed hives for other Detroit businesses like Detroit City Distillery and gardens like Detroit Abloom. When not tending to his 28 hives in southeast Michigan, he teaches fifth-graders at Musson Elementary in Rochester Hills.

The goal is to educate others about the conservation of honey bees, which are declining in numbers, he said. Last week he took a few Babes Babes Babes on the roof for a tour.

“(We) suited them up and gave them a look at the world of the honey bee to help educate and stifle some of those fears that people have about honey bees, because they get mistaken for a lot of the more aggressive bees like wasps,” he said.

While the honey will make the chocolate that much sweeter, Peterson said it gives the product an extra Detroit-made flair.

“The honey is actually from Detroit,” he said. “The bees go about a 2-mile radius, so they’re also going into Detroit to get some of their nectar. So how cool to use those extremely fresh and local resources.”

Clark, a Michigan State University graduate in hospitality and food science, is a 2016 Forbes 30 Under 30 Food and Drink winner and Martha Stewart American Made Award finalist.

Since she launched her dream chocolate shop, customers have gone bonkers over her $3 Bons. And though Clark has held pop-ups in New York and introduced her creations to sweet tooths internationally, she can’t imagine running Bon Bon Bon anywhere but Hamtramck.

“It’s amazing to be a chocolatier in a community that is the most diverse community in the state culturally,” she said. “Making chocolate here is a nonnegotiable thing. Not only do we have amazing neighbors, but as a chocolate shop, I don’t think we could find a more inspiring place to be.”

Bon Bon Bon, which also has downtown Detroit location on Fort Street, will be open six days a week. Hours will be announced soon.

ssteinberg@detroitnews.com

 

Bees help bring in the harvest

By Linda Shepard

Posted May 10, 2017

 

METRO DETROIT — When Brian Peterson first planted a vegetable garden, he saw modest success. 

“I got some cucumbers and zucchini and tomatoes,” Peterson said. “But once I got bees, it was unbelievable. I had to pawn off vegetables on the neighbors and make a bunch of pickles. 

“If a flower is not pollinated, it can’t produce fruit,” he said. “The flower will fall off and die. Before I had bees, I would try to pollinate with a brush by hand, hoping I would do an adequate job. The bees do a much better job.” 

Peterson, who is an elementary school teacher, has been teaching others about the benefits of beekeeping since 1999, when he spent two weeks on Beaver Island in northern Michigan attending beekeeping classes. 

A local garden club sponsored him, with improved gardening in mind along with honey production. Since then, Peterson has been sharing his knowledge through classes at Oakland University, Dinosaur Hill Nature Preserve in Rochester and more. 

He also started the nonprofit organization Bees in the D, partnering with city homeowners and Detroit Abloom.

“We help people without much income get more vegetables,” said Peterson, who lives in Detroit.

In addition to installing beehives in Detroit backyards, Peterson has placed hives on building roofs, on Woodward Avenue and in Hamtramck. 

“Bees don’t need a lot of space,” he said. “I thought, ‘How perfect to put them in Detroit, on space wasted on roofs.’”  

Gardeners considering beekeeping to aid vegetable production and to harvest honey should check with local officials and neighborhood associations. 

“A handful of cities have ordinances against (backyard beehives),” Peterson said. “But most cities are open to bees and are starting to recognize their importance. It is becoming an attractive hobby.”

He said honeybees — unlike aggressive yellow jackets and hornets — are fairly docile. 

“There is a huge misunderstanding about honeybees,” Peterson said. “They only sting if their queen is in danger or they are stressed. When a honeybee stings, it dies.” 

Peterson said he has aided homeowners by meeting with neighbors. 

“We did a presentation for the neighbors of a woman in Rochester,” he said. “It became a social event, with honey and wine. Some people are very nervous about bees, especially if they are allergic.”

The global disappearance of bees is “still a huge problem,” he said. 

“Europe banned a few of the main pesticides that contributed to the weakening of bees, and their bee population is on the rise,” he said. “Unfortunately, the pesticide problem is still happening here.” 

For those interested in learning about beekeeping, Oakland Township is offering free beekeeping classes at Cranberry Lake Park on Predmore Road. Oakland Township Historic Preservation Planner Barb Barber said township officials hope the beehives will aid in apple production at the park, which is located within a historic district. 

“We just planted 25 trees in the apple orchard,” Barber said. “The beekeeping program is in the henhouse. The bees will pollinate the apples.”

Saturday beekeeping classes will be held from 1 to 2 p.m. May 13, June 10, July 8 and Aug. 12 at the park. Beekeeper Preston Zale will cover the basics of bees, bee health, beehive maintenance and harvesting honey. 

“The beekeeping program is getting a lot of interest,” Barber said. “We have over 20 people signed up so far.”

For more information or to register for the Cranberry Lake Park beekeeping classes, call (248) 608-6807 or email bbarber@oaklandtownship.org.  

Peterson invites all to attend his Bees in the D Bee-Bee-Q Fundraiser at 4 p.m. June 14 at 200 Riverplace Drive, Suite 35, in Detroit, for food, drinks, live music and a silent auction. A suggested donation is $50 per person. For more information, visit beesinthed.com.

Beekeeping for Bee-giners

OAKLAND TOWNSHIP — Honeybees are critical to our food supply and ecosystem.

“Six years ago, I went to Beaver Island for a two-week crash course on beekeeping,” Brian Peterson, a Dinosaur Hills volunteer at Oakland Township’s Cranberry Lake Park, said July 20. “I became addicted to bees after one day.”

Peterson led a group of beekeeping enthusiasts through his own crash course of bee information last week, providing valuable tips for starting and maintaining beehives, and giving some bee history.

“The more hands-off you are, the more production you get,” he said. “If you keep your hive neat, you take away from their production.” The bees handle everything. “A beehive is a well-oiled machine,” he said.

Start-up costs for a beekeeper are usually less than $500 for a hive, beekeeper suit and the bees, which are delivered by mail, accompanied by a queen bee. “The start-up is the expense,” Peterson, who is an elementary school science teacher, said. “Then it pays for itself.”

He said he has generated 40 pounds of honey from one beehive this year. “It is a good honey year,” he said. “We’ve had lots of rain.”

Honeybees are not native to North America, Peterson said. They were imported from Europe, and the most popular strains arrived from Italy and Germany. “They were imported here by ship,” he said, and the import “failed more times than it succeeded.”

Now, honeybees are so important to our ecosystem as pollinators that “it is hard to believe they are not native,” Peterson said. Honey is the most preservable food on the planet, he said. “It has been found in the pyramids. If it crystallizes, heat it up and it is fine.”

Scientists are still trying to explain the recent die-offs of beehives worldwide. “They’ve ruled out cellphones,” Peterson said.

Honeybees are not bumblebees or yellow jackets, he explained, and will only sting humans to defend themselves or their home. Honeybees have complex social lives, and hives hold three different types of bees: female worker bees, male drones and the queen.

“All the workers are females and they do everything,” he said. “They clean, forage, guard the beehive and keep it cool. The drones’ only job is to breed and fertilize the queen. The queen lays about 1,000 eggs a day.”

Angela Cremeans, of Rochester Hills, attended the workshop and said she has considered installing a beehive on her property. “I have about an acre,” she said. “I’m interested in bees for pollination and for my own personal honey.”

Liz Timmerman, of Rochester Hills, said she is also interested in increased pollination by bees in her garden. “Last year, my pumpkins never got pollinated,” she said.

Keeping a beehive is an uncomplicated and usually successful operation that can be accomplished in a yard of almost any size. “Bees love artificial hives,” Peterson said. “It is the condo they all want.”

He said new beekeepers should join one of the local bee clubs, which meet once a month and provide information and mentoring.

Peterson said he is currently looking for a loft location that will support a rooftop garden and beehive. “It is becoming more and more acceptable because people are realizing that we need our bees,” he said.

A DIFFERENT KIND OF HIGHWAY COMING TO THE MOTOR CITY

 

Katherine Pertuso
Spartan Online Newsroom

As Detroit enters a new renaissance, many entrepreneurs have taken advantage of this period of innovation. This includes Brian Peterson, a fifth grade teacher from Rochester and beekeeping enthusiast. He plans on starting one of the first bee highways in the U.S., a system of bee hives on rooftops of local businesses to help pollinate the plants of the “urban farming” movement and produce honey. He and his husband, also named Brian, have started a nonprofit organization “Bees in the D”.

It all started when Peterson was chosen to take a course on beekeeping.

“I was sponsored to gHoneyBeePullQuoteo to a class called beekeeping across the curriculum,” said Peterson. “It was a two-week crash course on beekeeping in the classroom and how to educate the kids. So I caught the bug as I like to tell people, and since then I’ve loved it.”

He said at first, his beekeeping only made it as far as the women’s local garden club in Rochester, but soon got the urge to move to the city. However, before Peterson could do that there were a few legal gray areas that needed to be addressed.

“There are no ordinances really for or against it,” said Peterson. “There are people in the city limits that do beekeeping and it’s never really been an issue.”

There are currently ordinances in the works Peterson hopes will have the language to legalize beekeeping. By using examples of pioneers of urban beekeeping like New York City, San Francisco, Madison and more, he wants to set the precedent that urban beekeeping is beneficial and safe. Peterson said he believes the benefits to the community outweigh the safety concerns of some.

“Bees have been a symbol of resurrection throughout history. They’re also a signal of being prosperous and successful and I feel that mirrors Detroit beautifully. It’s a resurrection right now,” said Peterson. “Detroit had a reputation as Motor City, then it had a reputation that wasn’t so desired, but now we’re seeing another push of Detroit becoming an art mecca, a technology mecca, a greening and gardening mecca.”

Honeybees would not only benefit Detroit’s community, but agriculture as a whole said Peterson.

“Your greenery whether it’s vegetables, whether it’s flowers, you will have a much higher yield because of the pollination of bees,” Peterson said. “Without the pollinators you can still get fruit and flowers but the plant is weakened so that’s obviously a huge benefit as well.”

The NRDC released a report in 2011 stating, “Pollinators transfer pollen and seeds from one flower to another…Cross-pollination helps at least 30 percent of the world’s crops and 90 percent of our wild plants to thrive. Without bees to spread seeds, many plants–including food crops–would die off.” Some of the fruits and vegetables pollinated by honeybees include apples, oranges, blueberries, carrots, avocados and almonds.”

Honeybeefoods2While putting honey bees in urban areas is a safety concern for many, Peterson said he hopes to break stereotypes of bees.

“That’s the biggest challenge that beekeepers like myself face and that is why my main passion is educating people that not only are the bees extremely important to our livelihood, our food, our everything, they’re also not as horrible as you may think,” said Peterson.

Peterson explained that not only are honeybees docile, but are often mixed up with other species.

“When honeybees sting, unlike hornets and wasps, they’re stinger gets stuck within their skin, it rips their abdomen and they die,” said Peterson. “It’s different from hornets that can sting repetitively and really have nothing to lose out of the whole process.”

In the end what Peterson seems to value above all else is bringing up Detroit, being a pioneer and changing wasted space into something useful.honeycomb

“Honey bees and an urban environment can have a symbiotic relationship,” said Peterson. “We can function together. What I love about that aspect of it is most of the spots that I’m eyeing are wasted space. Rooftops where nothing is happening or vacant lots; areas that are for the most part not being used so that’s the beauty of it.”