During a warm summer day back in 2010, I was visiting with some friends of my son, when I glanced outside of the window and noticed two Bee Hives in a small garden next to the house. My first thought was I hope I don’t get stung as I had spend a large portion of my childhood receiving inoculation shots to help my body build up a tolerance to being stung by a bee. Yes, I was severely allergic to insect stings and thus anytime I saw a bee, my guard would immediately come up. However now I was confronted with the fact that 50,000 bees were just outside the window, there was no way I was going outside.
I began to share my story with the owner of the property and he assured me that I would be safe. Questions raced through my mind about the bees swarming on me if I can near the hive, and why would anyone have a hive in their yard? After much discussion with the homeowner, I learned that night that bees are very calm and docile insects and that keeping bees could become a hobby that is very satisfying. Besides, what a great by product of keeping bees, large amounts of honey!
After leaving that night, I began to research and talk to others about keeping bees as a hobby. I learned that having local honey can help some folks with local allergies. How could I not enjoy this hobby? I can overcome a fear I had as a child and now as an adult, get something sweet to eat, and provide a product that can help my friends with severe allergies. I was all in at that point.
How do I do this? Well I enrolled in a local bee keeping class being offered by a local cooperative extension office. They taught me all about bees, equipment, harvesting, diseases, and everything imaginable about bees and tending them. They provided an exam of which I passed and became certified as a North Carolina State Beekeeper. WOW, this was cool.
Taking the knowledge from class, I purchased my first hive and installed the bees. I was an over protective mother as I wanted to check on my bees all the time. They survived me and the winter and came into spring ready to make honey. I added a second hive early in March and by the time the Honey flow came; I had two hives that were producing large amounts of honey. One hundred and ten pounds of honey, certainly more than I could ever use.
How should I get rid of this? Well how about help your friends? People with allergies, gifts to family, and of course I would consume plenty. My wife and I ended up giving over 80 pounds of honey away. The joy of helping others especially little Corbin who is a young boy with allergies. He loves eating honey and it is helping him with his allergies. We ended up hearing stories from many people how they felt better from eating our local honey.
Hmmm. What now? I still have honey left over and a fat man can only eat so much. Maybe we will sell it at a good price to those who want a quality product? Bee Sweet NC LLC was formed on that day. We are a small family company that is committed to helping other with a quality local and healthy product. We tend bees that produce honey because we love doing this, we like the product and we are happy that the bees are pollinating everything around them. It is such a good feeling knowing that we are providing so much more than just honey.
We have no intentions of becoming a huge Honey enterprise; however we do have plans for continued growth as we are now moving into more hives to meet the local demand. We still view this as a hobby gone wild, and we approach each day with our hives and bees as if it was the first day. This fresh approach to helping others, providing a great product and having fun while doing it, is what makes Bee Sweet NC LLC a company worth doing business with.
• Bee Sweet NC was formed in 2011 by Tom Parnelle, Sr.