Last month I had the opportunity to visit Savannah Bee Company, a company that I have been following for a number of years– I was eager to check it out in person. Founded in 2002 by Ted Dennard, aka “Fearless Leader” amongst the team, Savannah Bee Company is so much more than just selling honey and beeswax.
Dennard sees bees as role models for living in harmony with the environment. He grew up on St. Simon’s Island in Georgia and was first introduced to beekeeping at 12 years old. Through his various stages of life – high school, college – he always had bees at his side. Even through the Peace Corps he taught beekeeping to village farmers in South America. And while it seemed as though Dennard’s interest in bees was just a hobby, he enthusiastically traveled the world to research and watch them “making medicinal manuka honey in New Zealand, rubber honey in Vietnam, logwood honey in Jamaica, heather honey in Ireland, and the famous tilleul lavender honey of France,” his bio states.
“Until recently, it seemed more like fate than a business plan. I never wanted to do this for the money because I never thought I could make any,” Dennard says.
Savannah Bee Company’s retail establishments offer everything you would expect, such as dozens of different types of honey, luxurious and natural body care products, honey tastings, and even honey accessories like honey crocks, honey spoons and grill planks. But perhaps the most noticeable aspect of the store was its focus on education for both adults and children alike. Many books lined the shelves of the “Interactive Learning Hive” and the day I visited a local author was signing a book she had written about honeybees. Though I missed the “Honeybee Theater,” I was told documentaries about the importance of honeybees are shown there. Brochures lined the counters with tons of information about how good honey is for you and the knowledgeable staff educated me on the different types of honey through my tasting. They also have educational events in the store after hours, which feature local chefs, artists, beekeepers, health practitioners, and other folks who use honeybee products in their craft
But it’s not just the public that Savannah Bee Company wants to educate. Education is incorporated into the company’s corporate mission so that all employees share the same passion as Dennard and gain insight into the amazing world of the honeybee. Dennard also makes time to speak with the public, and is a frequent guest to garden clubs, beekeeping seminars, and even honey-themed dinners.
“Bees live as people should live: naturally, symbiotically, and in a manner that only contributes positively to the world around them,” Dennard says. “I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
[Image credit: Savannah Bee Company]