Alumni Profile: Nicholas Melka '10
Beekeeper and Business Owner
When life handed Nicholas Melka a batch of lemons, he didn’t make lemonade. He made honey. Faced with the debilitating symptoms of Lyme Disease, which he contracted during his first year at Bishop’s University, Nicholas was taking 60 pills a day and making multiple trips to the hospital where he was frequently pumped with morphine. He then turned to Eastern medicine and, on the advice of a Chinese medicine doctor, began to consume unprocessed honey. Within three days, the pain that had been part of his everyday existence for the better part of two years was gone.
Although unprocessed honey may not be a cure-all for everyone, Nicholas’ experience compelled him to produce his own stock. While still in school, he started off by contacting beekeepers and setting up seven beehives in Montreal, which he registered with the Minister of Agriculture. His goal was to produce raw or unprocessed honey and to help sustain the honeybee population, which has seen a dramatic decline.
“I wanted to give back to the bees,” he says. “Not only did they help me personally, they are also critical to our ecosystem. In Montreal alone, they help pollinate over one billion flowers a year.” These seven beehives ultimately became Miel MTL, Nicholas’ business, which extracts honey from the honeycombs using a cold stainless steel centrifuge. Unlike processed honey, which is heated, Nicholas says that this process helps to retain the medicinal and nutritional properties.
Today he maintains 39 hives in 10 cities throughout Quebec and plans to have upwards of 80 by year’s end. Miel MTL’s honey can be found in health food and gourmet stores throughout the City of Montreal, and he has even begun to penetrate the market in British Columbia and California.
Nicholas will be graduating from Bishop’s University this year with a degree in business. “I feel proud that I have been able to apply what I learned in school to the development of something positive,” he says. “One of my greatest achievements is having turned a bad situation into a productive enterprise.”
He believes that his life skills and the drive to work toward something like Miel MTL were acquired at LCC. “The school gave me a strong foundation,” he says. “It allowed me to develop my mind and think beyond my local surroundings.” But even with these skills, he acknowledges that building a successful business takes time. “You have to work hard and take the necessary steps to reach a goal. If you lay down one brick every day, you will eventually have a castle.”