Categories: Recipes

Honey Nut Cookies, The Merc Bumble Bees

We left Phoenix for Lawrence, KS while my husband attended law school. Lawrence has tons of small-town charm, but I missed the variety and volume of bigger city dining options. Despite being small, the Lawrence culinary community did do a few things very well. For example, our proximity to Kansas City gave us access to some of the best BBQ in the world. Also, I’d put the French toast at Milton’s Café up against anyone’s in the country.The Merc is what I miss most; it is a locally owned co-op that I frequented at least weekly. We called it a cozier, nicer and more affordable version of Whole Foods. In addition to outstanding local produce, they had the most amazing hot food bar, often with interesting and excellently prepared ethnic foods, hearty soups, and decadent baked goods. My favorites were their fried tofu and these little honey nut cookies called ‘bumble bees’.I’ve searched for the bumble bee recipe for more than two years since leaving Lawrence for California. I even wrote down the ingredients before we left so I could try my hand at recreating them. No luck. I found one blog that mentioned the Merc’s bumble bees, but she didn’t disclose a recipe. Finally, last week I took the direct approach by emailing the Merc and asked them for the recipe. To my utter surprise and pure excitement, they sent me the recipe!I made two batches last weekend and wasn’t sure I was going to share this recipe here because I didn’t think I had quite perfected it. Since I had made so many, I brought a couple dozen of my extra bees into work and left them in the break room. The next morning, my co-workers bombarded me questions, wondering if I had made the bees and pleading for the recipe. I was struck by the overtly positive reaction. I mean, I have always loved them, but didn’t know if others would feel the same.I figure, given the prodding, the recipe is worth sharing. The kicker is that the bees are 100% natural; no artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners and are gluten-free, if that’s your thing.

What do you think of the bees? Is this something you’d make? Please let me know how yours turn out.

Honey Nut Bumble Bees (adapted from The Merc, Lawrence KS)

Yields = 40


  • ¾ cup natural peanut butter
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup dried unsweetened coconut
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup sesame seeds
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds


Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly toast the seeds, nuts, and coconut. For best results, toast each item separately. Check regularly and move around with a spatula. Toasting time is approximately 5-7 minutes.

Place the honey and peanut butter in a large mixing bowl. Add the nuts, seeds and coconut to the honey and peanut butter and mix thoroughly.

While the dough is still warm, portion out with a small scoop or tablespoon. Dip the scoop in water periodically to help smooth the bees.

These can be frozen for future use, or baked off right away. To bake, set the oven to 350°. Bake for 15 – 18 minutes or until golden.

Stacey’s Tips:

  • If you notice that your bees have spread while baking, after they get out of the oven you can use water and a spoon to reform them into a rounder shape.  Dip the spoon in water and push the flattened edges toward the center.
  • Buy bulk sesame seeds in bulk at stores like Costco or Smart & Final; they are much cheaper than the little jars at grocery stores.
  • Look for unsweetened coconut in the health food section at your local grocery store.
Stacey Freeman: I am a Style Maven, Mommy, Educator, and Traveler.

View Comments (16)

  • OOhhh my GOSH! These are so incredibly good! Thank you so much for sharing! I love that all of your recipes including this one calls for REAL ingredients! Makes such a difference in the taste and quality! These bumble bees are one of my top favorite treats!! PLEASE keep the recipes coming! You are fabulous!

    • Stacey Freeman says:

      Thanks Alana! I'm so glad you loved the bees as much as I do.

  • Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!! I've been trying to replicate this recipe, also no luck... This is perfect! I love these bees so very much!

    • Stacey Freeman says:

      Yay! Glad you like them. I still miss the Merc's but these are close to as good:)

  • Yay!! So happy to have the recipe. I live across the street from the Merc, and the folks there told me they'd share the recipe...but finding it here = happy dance!

    • Stacey Freeman says:

      Hi Nell, glad you found the recipe here! Man, I don't think I'd have the self-restraint to make them at home instead of just getting them across the street:)

  • Any chance you have nutrition facts?

    • Stacey Freeman says:

      Sorry, no. I never calculated it before---you could try myfitnesspal or sparkpeople to calculate it.

  • thank you so much for sharing this recipe! I currently live in Lawrence, and have for 11 years now. I just found this for the first time at the mercy the other day. I'm getting ready to move to the east coast and was searching for a recipe when I found yours! I haven't made them yet, but I just ate my last bumble bee from the Merc while I was typing this. If you ever get back to Lawrence, we have more restaurants downtown now than ever--lots of varieties of cuisine and we never go into KC for food, as it is all right here in Lawrence. I will miss this city for sure!

    • Stacey Freeman says:

      Hi Beth, I'm glad you found me and I hope you like the recipe! I LOVED the Merc bumble bee cookies, and I still miss the Merc a lot. They had such great food. I miss their hot bar, soups, cookies, and tofu too! I'm glad to hear Lawrence's food scene is improving. I'm not sure we'll get back there anytime soon, but it is a great little town. Good luck with your move and let me know what you think of the recipe once you make it!

  • I didn't notice the autocorrect on the "Merc" before I hit submit. Sorry....

  • I am sitting at The Merc right now enjoying their weekend Mushroom & Leek Gravy & Biscuits, plus a couple other hot bar items. I also picked out a Bumble Bee to take with me for fortifying energy later. And I found myself thinking I want to make these myself so took a look online just to see what there is there. Nothing. Until after further & further looking, I noticed the word Merc....& wondered. So clicked it & discovered your recipe! Am so glad.
    Thank you!!

    My kids have moved to other states & The Merc is one of their stops when visiting Lawrence. Plus when relocating to another city they quickly look for something similar to The Merc. It’s certainly a big bonus.

    • Stacey Freeman says:

      I miss the Merc! It's one of the few things I miss most in Lawrence. Have you tried the recipe yet?

  • Thank you for sharing this recipe! We have been buying bumblebees from the Merc in Lawrence this past year. We often have to go to the bakery to get them as they are sold out on the shelf. Since finding your post last week, I have been to the Merc multiple times to purchase the ingredients. I have mastered the recipe and have been baking hundreds of bees for family, friends, and co-workers this past week. A huge hit! I wanted to share some of my findings with you. You are correct in that 1 tablespoon makes ~40 balls per batch. My belief is that the Merc is using 2 tablespoons to produce a single ball selling for ninety nine cents. Second, I wanted to share the nutritional information for these amazing treats. If you follow your recipe and produce 40 balls per batch, the # of calories per ball is 108 calories. In addition, there are 9g of fat, 3g of protein, and 9g of net carbs per ball in a 40 ball batch. Thank you!

  • I just stopped by the Merc before leaving Lawrence. I picked out a bumble bees bas.
    It was so good. So, I searched on google right a way!
    Happily i found your site. I will make it for my family for sure. The taste is unique and balanced.
    Thank you

  • So glad you found the recipe! :)