Written by Jan Walsh
Photography by Beau Gustafson
Bees are in trouble. Honeybees, bumble bees, and other native bees are disappearing at alarming rates. Pesticides are weakening their immune systems. Honeybees contribute to one of every three bites of food we eat. More than $19 billion of crops each year are pollinated by bees. And $150 million of honey is produced in the U.S. annually.
Savannah Bee Company owner Ted Dennard has been working with bees for more than 30 years. Today, his company bottles single flower honeys without blending them. All honeys are hand-harvested at the peak of the blooming season for purity. All are KSA Kosher-certified and 100 percent pure honey.
Raw honeycomb is made up of a comb of hexagonal cells made by bees from beeswax. To create 1 pound of honey, 550 bees have to visit 2 million flower blossoms. The bees must then consume 6 pounds of honey to generate 1 pound of beeswax. Beeswax is edible and contains healing properties. Into each beeswax cell, bees deposit the flower nectar they gathered from thousands of flowers. The bees then stand over the cell and fan their wings to evaporate the water from the nectar, leaving only honey. The cell is capped with a thin layer of beeswax and reserved as a food supply for the colony.
Varietal honey refers to the honey gathered from a single blossom type. Each nectar type has its own unique flavor and sugar composition and thus its own unique taste. Any honey poured by Savannah Bee Company as a specialty varietal honey must have a minimum of 80 percent pollen count. Among the Savannah Bee varietals harvested are Tupelo Honey, Sourwood Honey, Orange Blossom Honey, Wildflower Honey, and Acacia Honey.
This year, Savannah Bee Company’s Acacia Honeycomb Jar is back after being unavailable for five years. Acacia honey boasts superb clarity. It is white-gold in color and mild in taste, and it has a slow rate of crystallization. However, at a time of low-yielding monofloral honey crops, they do not have Tupelo or Sourwood honey nor an adequate supply of raw Georgia Wildflower honeycomb. But they have found a good supply of Acacia honey and Acacia honeycomb. Raw Acacia honeycomb comes in squares from the acacia forests of Hungary, where acacia trees are plentiful.
In addition to honeycomb, varietal honeys, artisan honeys, and everyday honeys, Savannah Bee Company also makes a line of body and beauty products that use their honeys, beeswax, and organic ingredients. Products include hand cream, salve, heel balm, hand soap, soap, body balm, oral mist, lip gloss, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and body lotion. These products can be found in local markets and restaurants and online at savannahbee.com.
Savannah Bee is also a partner of the Bee Cause Project, an organization that educates students about the importance of healthy honeybee populations. Together they have installed observation hives in schools in 13 different states and the Bahamas, with Savannah Bee assisting teachers in developing a honeybee-centered curriculum.•