Lavish Lavender

Whether spritzed as a fragrance or massaged as an essential oil, lavender is a sought-after product adored by many for its beautiful appearance and calming properties. One couple has turned their affection for the wildflower into a budding business by harnessing the power of lavender and honey bees to create natural aromatherapy and unique culinary products.

Jerry and Holly McCabe, co-owners of Sleepy Bees Lavender Farm, began this chapter after purchasing 21 acres in Firth, Nebraska. When they discovered their jobs were moving out of state, the couple decided to stay and venture into their own pursuits. Initially, they entertained the idea of opening a restaurant because of their shared culinary backgrounds, but the idea fell short once they realized the lack of time they would have for family and animals—all while tending to 21 acres.

Shifting gears, the two thought back to their wedding, which emphasized beautiful lavender flowers as decorations and thank-you gifts. It was then the idea of growing lavender in Nebraska was born. Doing so would allow them to maintain their shared love for the culinary arts while incorporating it into their new adventure. Committed to the world of sustainable farming, it was time to learn how to raise honeybees and how they pollinate lavender. In spring 2018, Sleepy Bees began its journey with two hives, two packages of bees, and two queens.

One of the most significant challenges was bringing a Mediterranean plant to Nebraska. Lavender plants need dry, rocky soil in mid-range temperatures—not sub-zero temperatures. Aside from its standout name, Phenomenal Lavender is dubbed for its powerful fragrance and extreme tolerance to hot and cold weather conditions. 

Knowing it was hearty enough to make it through Nebraska’s winters, the McCabes planted 1,700 Phenomenals in May 2018. By the end of the year, Sleepy Bees Lavender Farm had developed its four main products: lotion, body wash, sugar scrub, and body butter. Though the soaps and fragrances were a hit, the McCabes knew they needed to emphasize a different side of lavender that many people don’t consider. 

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