Traverse City Record-Eagle

May 10, 2013

Beekeeper's wife keeps farm going after husband dies

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — SUTTONS BAY — Mandy Jelinek is committed to keeping her husband’s dream alive.

Jelinek’s husband, Jeremy, died in an October vehicle crash in Blair Township. His loss left Mandy the sole caretaker of their three young children and left her to face a mountain of grief and sadness.

But Jelinek is finding a way to follow through on Jeremy’s lifelong goal of operating a successful apiary in Suttons Bay.

“The bees were Jeremy’s passion,” Jelinek said. “I can’t really let that go. I want to keep it going.”

Tonight, Jeremy’s memory will be honored in a special event at the State Theatre that aims to raise money for Michael’s Place — a Traverse City-based nonprofit that helps the grief-stricken overcome the loss of a loved one.

Michael’s Place Executive Director Mindy Buell said the event, called A Night at the Movies, costs $25 and will feature the movie Akeelah and the Bee and a reading from childrens’ book author Tanya Wildfong, who wrote Bee in the Barn.

Jelinek also will be present, with her honey products available for purchase. She appears regularly at the Leelanau County Farmers Market with the honey.

“We are in support of the Jelinek family,” Buell said. “It’s really to honor the memory of Jeremy Jelinek and to support his wife Mandy and their three children as they work to find purpose in the loss of such an important man in their lives.”

Jeremy Jelinek was killed in the crash along M-37 near Norton Road. He was driving a semi-truck with a load of bees when a pickup truck crossed the center line and struck him.

Mandy Jelinek said she’s working with her brother-in-law, Andrew Jelinek, and Jeremy’s close friend, Robert Herman, to keep the business going. They regularly truck bees to farms for pollination and also do what bee farmers do best: make honey.

The commitment to the business is helping her through the difficult days, she said, and just may offer a future in agriculture for her three children, ages 5, 3, and 8 months.

“It makes me feel happy and excited,” Jelinek said. “A lot of people are curious about bees, and this makes me want to share his story. Even though a tragedy happened, bees are amazing little creatures and people need to know about them.

“Jeremy built a great business and a great legacy,” she said. “Maybe in the future, my kids might want to do it.”