Brooks Mullahy started beekeeping in 1984 as a backyard beekeeper in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with only 2 hives.
Life took many turns from there, including a 13-year stint in East Africa working in International Aid and Development. Upon returning to the United States in 2012, she embarked on an apprenticeship with a master beekeeper in Moravia, New York. After 4 years as an apprentice, Mary set out on her own to turn beekeeping into her livelihood and Sunswick Farm began to take form.
In 2017, after a year of selling honey, it became apparent to Brooks that this could be a viable business. “I was working smarter in the bee yards, aka being efficient, yet my bookkeeping and business planning was lacking in efficiency and my plans for building the business were not formed in a useful way. I needed advice and guidance to move forward.”
Brooks contacted the Small Business Development Center in Onondaga County last winter. The Onondaga SBDC connected her with a consultant, Lindsey Jakubowski, who worked with Brooks to upgrade to Quickbooks for bookkeeping. Business Advisor “Paul Brooks took the time to come see my operation and learn what my thinking was for the future. Paul has offered guidance, counsel and just the right amount of ‘push’ to get me heading in a successful direction, as I plan to raise funds to expand my business and opportunities here at the farm.”
She now has one employee, Josh, who works with her throughout the entire bee season, April through October, and sells honey with her on weekends in the winter months. From 2 hives in 1984 to over 250 hives in 2018, Brooks Mullahy has come a long way!
So, why is Sunswick Farm honey different from other honey?
Sunswick Farm has 24 bee yards spread over three counties. They have many honey varieties because the plant material in each area is diverse. Every year is different and at the height of their season Sunswick Farm can have 14 different varieties ranging from Apple Blossom, Acacia, Basswood, Clover, Raspberry, Star Thistle, Aster, Aster/Jewelweed, Goldenrod, Japanese Knotweed, Buckwheat and the classics Spring, Summer and Fall Wildflower and more.
Read articles and advice written by our very own Onondaga SBDC Business Advisors!