The Jerky Path of a Mustard Maker

The Story of How Buzz Savories Got Started

Holdrege. NE

The Trailhead

After a lifetime of learning and working – instructing Head start students in a college in the Pine Ridge of northwest Nebraska, developing vocational education coursework in early childhood for a tribally-controlled community college in North Dakota, facilitating work and role redesign in a hospital setting in Fargo, North Dakota, and grant writing for an urban Indian community center in Minnesota, I returned to Holdrege, my town under 10,000 in Nebraska.

I asked what this change meant for me, and what to do with uncharted time in Holdrege, a small town on the Nebraska prairie?

Betty Sayers & Nancy Herhahn

Publishing an Online Magazine Revealed the Path Ahead

My sister also left her career in southern California and built a home 50 miles and  within driving distance of Holdrege. (Life on the Nebraska Great Plains involves 60 minute drives to buy, to visit, to see, and to attend.)  Noting opportunities for creativity and pleasure, we combined our skill sets and started a monthly, non-profit and online magazine – Nebraska Rural Living. 

The magazine featured rural Nebraska entrepreneurs, self-guided bird watching trails, and photos of locally grown fruits and vegetables including recipes of  regional specialties.

On this venture we were fortunate to meet and collaborate with, a writer and publicity specialist whose expertise added a professional shine to our on-line magazine.  We also were steeped in Nebraska lore, Nebraska Tourism, Nebraska Economic Development and other State agencies, and we acquired online publishing skills.

"What's Next For Me?" I Wondered.

I started thinking I needed a leisure activity to fill empty hours. I surveyed high school friends to learn that they were playing golf, playing bridge, traveling on cruises, active in their churches, volunteering in the community, caring for parents and grandchildren, and keeping well and happy.

Always seeking a challenge in my life,  I did not see myself joining them in these pursuits so thought, “What is next for me?”

What Do Bees Have to Do With It?

photo by Don Brockmeier
photo by Don Brockmeier

To help me decide, I listed f topics that I wanted to learn about, and to my surprise, bee-keeping rose to the top of the list! Knowing that I had no experience with bees and knew nothing about keeping an apiary, in January of 2006, I enrolled in a Beginning Beekeeping class taught by Marion Ellis, PhD, a University of Nebraska Entomologist.

Anyone who keeps bees for the leisure of it, is sadly mistaken. What was I thinking? In addition to learning the biology of bees and culture of the hive, the physical demands of beekeeping challenged me, and the danger! Bees sting, and bee stings hurt! Bees swarm – gather the majority of their sisters and leave the hive!  And I found courage I didn’t know I had when I opened a hive housing 30,000 wild creatures that resented me invading their colony.

I set-up my hives in a neglected pasture near Elm Creek, Nebraska, and somehow overcoming winter fatalities and swarms, and colony collapse caused in part by varroa mites, exterminating varroa mites without killing off the bees, and 50 other issues that beekeepers must problem-solve, I was harvesting some 300 pounds of raw honey. That’s a lot of honey, and while I could give some away to family and friends, I didn’t know what to do with the excess honey.

What Business Model Incorporates Honey?

Spicy Beer Mustard - Buzz Savories

What next? What could I make out of honey that would entertain me and also grow into a small business? Baclava? No, not with a limited market for a Greek pastry in rural Nebraska.

How a Local Brewer Took a Recipe from Excellent to Superb

Then exploring the potential for a savory instead of sweet product, mustard popped-up in my mind, and lucky for me, my next door neighbor, Lisa, formerly a critical care nurse, and currently a world traveler and gourmet cook, offered her expertise in developing a recipe for mustard.  At this juncture, we collaborated with our local brewer, Mark Krause, at Lost Way Brewery. Combining Mark’s talent in selecting the perfect brew (Old Creamery Stout) as a primary ingredient for the mustard, and Lisa’s skills testing and tasting recipes, and my enthusiasm for making mustard, we developed our first product, Spicy Beer Mustard

The Journey That Lay Ahead

But just having honey and a recipe, I did not fully appreciate the journey that lay ahead. With the help of the University of Nebraska Food Science Department I passed all legal requirements for making and selling a food product, then leaped fearlessly into the unknown and started Buzz Savories, LLC.

Here’s just some of what I’ve learned so far:

  • How to incorporate a business
  • How to acquire a trademark
  • How to find a certified commercial kitchen
  • How to find manufacturing equipment
  • How to run a Kickstarter campaign to purchase equipment
  • How to develop a website and online store
  • How to sell product online through Amazon
  • How to find appropriate retail outlets
  • How to create and manage a marketing program
  • How to extend the Buzz Savories product line
Betty Sayers, Buzz Savories

Today in addition to our own online store, Buzz Savories artisanal honey, beeswax candles, Honey Mustard and Spicy Beer Mustard are available on e-commerce locations. See the list of on-line buying and retail stores at  

Business is a wily animal to tame and bees never tame. I sustain my interest and stamina for the work by incorporating Spicy Beer Mustard, Buzz Savories Honey Mustard, or honey in the making of salads to Filet de Boeuf a’ la Moutarde at aux Champignons. We have developed and published nearly 50 savory and sweet recipes. 

The uphill climb challenges me, and I continue because I like cooking and photographing luscious food. I like sharing the plates with my friends and on-line with our readers.    

Join Me on the Climb

Come along with me, we publish a 2 x per month newsletter where I write about beekeeping and mustard making and cooking and the terroir of the Nebraska Plains and will delight your eyes and stimulate your taste buds with recipes and photos.

The most wonderful moments happen at the intersection of food and life.

Gather Together & Feast


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