Neil Gaiman's latest award-winning creation: Honey

It's a sweet friendship between local Sharon Stiteler, an obsessive bird-watcher who blogs about her adventures on, and Neil Gaiman, who penned the Oscar-nominated flick Coraline. Each had always wanted to keep bees, but Gaiman couldn't commit the time, and living in an apartment hindered Stiteler. "I'll buy all the equipment, you can run the hives, and we'll split the honey down the middle," Gaiman suggested, setting their dream in motion. Stiteler explains how their talk on their desire to raise bees came up in the first place.

"My husband Bill adapted one of Neil's short stories into a play for the Minnesota Fringe Festival, and that's how we met." Gaiman invited the Stitelers over for a cookout. The two perused a bee website together, and bemoaned their lack of bees. That's when Gaiman came up with his suggestion.

Stiteler was all for it, but her husband and Gaiman's assistant Lorraine protested. "No, no, no, no," Stiteler recalls Bill saying. "He'll be at a book signing in the Philippines and you'll be at some bird festival and I'll have to deal with a swarm. No." Stiteler then explained that, in fact, bees are less likely to sting when they swarm.

"Bill and Lorraine are now an important part of our Bee Team," says Stiteler. They currently tend to eight hives. And now the team--made up of roughly 400,000 if you include the buzzing workers--are on a three-year, county fair first-prize-winning streak. Gaiman announced the most recent award on Twitter this week: ...Learned our honey and comb both took BLUE RIBBON. Now happy.

"We know our honey is incredible," says Stiteler. "But it's nice to have official county validation."

Neil Gaiman watches his bees, waits patiently for honey.
Neil Gaiman watches his bees, waits patiently for honey.

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