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The Beekeeper’s Daughter

Original Article from Summer 2012, Edible Cleveland

“Honey is like wine, in that it is a snapshot in time.” So says Chef Kimberly McCune and she would know. She and I are on our way to Auburn Township, where we’ll walk the family property and snap photos of McCune Family Apiary hives. A small portion of the 75 to 100 hives are situated on family acreage, with the balance scattered throughout Geauga and Ashtabula Counties on leased properties belonging to Amish and other independent farmers, and on the property of Notre Dame Cathedral Latin. These locations are selected for their abundance of desirable pollen sources in “elds of wild goldenrod, berry thickets and orchards of apple and pear trees.

Kimberly is a second-generation beekeeper, and a multigenerational industrious worker. Her grandfather built Chagrin’s Club 13 (now Sun Valley Party Center) as a social hall, which became a family affair. Kimberly’s mother, Karen, bused tables. Her father, Gene tended bar. Kimberly, then 4, and older sister Kate washed dishes and set up baskets of rolls for dinner service. A peek under a table at the end of many a long night could “nd young Kimberly curled up, fast asleep.

Gene McCune worked in the automotive industry for Cleveland Transmission Supply and, per Kimberly, was a “workaholic.” So much so that Karen urged her husband to please “and a hobby—something relaxing, like golf, perhaps? But much in the way that animal lovers subconsciously bring home pets resembling themselves, Gene was attracted to a hobby that mimicked his own hardworking ethic. The day came when he arrived home with five hives of honeybees and a desire to produce honey from their country real estate. One year later, a “Honey for Sale” sign was posted at the end the driveway and McCune Family Apiary was in business.

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