OU professor’s startup is creating buzz in Detroit


Connor McNeely

Hamtramck’s Bon Bon Bon chocolate shop teamed with Bees In The D for a honey fueled pop up event

Detroit is known for many things: automobile industry, Motown music and deep-dish pizza to name a few. Honeybees do not typically make that list. Adjunct professor Brian Peterson-Roest is determined to change that.

Peterson-Roest is primarily a fifth-grade teacher in Rochester Community Schools. About eight years ago, he was approached by the Rochester Garden Club, who wanted to send a teacher from the school system to Beaver Island for a crash course in beekeeping.

After taking the gig and discovering a powerful passion for the conservation and education of honeybees, Peterson-Roest and his husband Brian started a non-profit company called “Bees In The D.” The organization manages beehives atop buildings in Detroit including Cobo Center, Detroit City Distillery and Bon Bon Bon chocolate in Hamtramck.

On Saturday, Sept. 16, Bees in the D held a pop-up event inside Bon Bon Bon, where they harvested honey from the two hives located on the roof of the chocolate shop. Attendees were allowed to spin the honey, scrape it off the honeycomb trays it accumulates on and taste it on the spot.

Also in attendance were Detroit City Distillery with punch, Spun Sugar with ginger peach cotton candy and Geisha Girls sushi with honey roasted wontons and honey-inspired sushi rolls.

“This is our seventh public honey harvest because to me its such an amazing experience, why not let other people enjoy it instead of doing it in the privacy of my home,” Peterson-Roest said. “To me, the best way to educate people is to fool them into being educated. Have a fun event, and they don’t realize that they’re learning in the process. Adults are just like kids and so if you make learning fun they’re going to remember it and they’re going to be able to share that passion.”

Bon Bon Bon organized a ‘make your own chocolate station,’ where some of the ingredients they were able to add included all-natural and in-house honey and pollen that Bees In The D have been looking after for six months.

“It was really a goal of moving into this building to have hives on it,” said Alexandra Clark, Founding Chocolatier at Bon Bon Bon.

Clark founded the chocolate shop on her own three years ago and she is just as passionate about it as Peterson-Roest is about his honey.

“I can’t imagine my life without it,” Clark said. “Especially when I look at a room like this and I imagine not knowing the [Bees In The D]. Opening Bon Bon Bon has allowed me to meet so many people outside of my usual circle of people, outside of my family and friends.”

According to Clark, Peterson-Roest was a customer in her store and she was interested in his honey endeavors. Now they are bringing honey to Hamtramck together and promoting independent business and community involvement by doing what they love.

Surrounding the smiling faces in Bon Bon Bon were shelves of peppermint sticks, sprinkles, and endless candy snacks. But the sweetest treat in the store was the passion from both companies in charge. Truly positive examples of how business should ‘bee’ in the D.