|Tennille Road Honey is the Bee’s Knees|
|Tennille Road Honey is the Bee’s Knees|
When Mike Bagley was a young teenager living in California, he worked with a man who had a commercial honey business. He was fascinated by the bees and all the buzz surrounding the hives and thought beekeeping would be something he might want to do.
But college and the Army intervened and he soon forgot about the bees.
But about three years ago, he and his wife, Ann, moved to the country in rural Pike County and he, once again, got "bee" stung.
"Up until then, I didn’t have the time or a place to keep bees," he said. "But Ann was interested and we talked about it and decided to get a couple of hives."
They built two hives and then two more.
When their first harvest turned "golden," the Bagleys were so excited about their venture into beekeeping they got three more hives.
"This year was the first year we have had a big harvest," Mike said and added laughing. "At least, what is a big harvest for us.
"Our first real harvest was in the spring and the honey was a real, light golden colored clover honey. Had the drought not been so bad, there would have been more flowers and we would have had more honey but we were satisfied with the harvest."
It’s a simple machine that spins the honey out of the combs and oozes it out of a spout to be bottled and eaten or sold.
"We sold six cases of our honey at a roadside stand this summer and people seemed to really like it," Mike said. "We realized there is a market for honey around here."
In August, the Bagleys had a second "big" harvest.
"This time we had 15 gallons of honey," Mike said. "It was wildflower honey and it was a lot darker than the clover honey we had in the spring. But it was just as good."
The last Saturday in October, the Bagleys set up shop at the Peanut Butter Festival in Brundidge and they sold their honey under a different label.
Their first label had been rather nondescript, just an ordinary "bee" label.
They wanted a label that would generate interest and also "locate" their product.
"We live on the Tennille Road just outside Brundidge so we thought that Tennille Road Honey would be a fitting label," Mike said.
So the Tennille Road Honey Company became official and the Bagleys were serious honeybee hobbyist.
"Beekeeping has been a hobby for us but, after the Peanut Butter Festival, we are looking at it as something we might want to do on a larger scale after we both retire.
"Our August harvest was 15 gallons and we bottled all of it and sold just about everything we had at the Peanut Butter Festival," Mike said. "People were really interested in local honey and especially for medicinal purposes. Supposedly, eating locally made honey helps build up the immune system and that’s a very good thing for people with allergies."
Locally made honey could be just what the doctor ordered for people suffering with allergies.
Those who have found honey is a help to them in keeping the sneezes and sniffles away just might beat a path to local honeybee businesses.
"We are looking at building a few more hives even now," Mike said. "We have four hives on the other side of the pond and we have one hive visible from the back deck. We also have three hives on Ann’s parents’ property."
The Tennille Road Honey hives are not the usual white beehives that sometimes are topped with green.
Their hives give color to the countryside.
"They are colorful," Ann said, laughing. "They remind me of Mexico. We like the color and maybe the bees like it too.
"We check the hives every few days to make sure that everything is okay."
Ann leaned down and looked inside the hive where the bees were "working" at whatever it is that bees do all day.
"We look for signs of trouble in the hives. If we see a lot of dead bees or a lot of leaves or other debris around the base of the hives or melting wax, that’s a sign of trouble.
"We have been very fortunate that we haven’t lost any bees. They have not swarmed. They have stayed right here."
Mike said since their hives are far out in the country and very far away from other hives, the Tennille Road bees don’t have many opportunities to interact with other bees.
"That helps our bees to stay healthy and we’ve been very fortunate, we have healthy bees," he said.
The real work with bees comes at harvest time.
Mike and Ann don their protective gear and smoke the bees.
"The smoke causes them to think their hives are in danger and they become more interested in their honey than in us," he said. "We’ve gotten stung a few times but maybe we’ve built up an immunity to the stings. They aren’t so bad."
Harvesting the honey takes a full day — a long, long full day.
"It’s hot, sticky work but we enjoy it," Ann said. "Then, there’s more work inside to do."
When the honey-making machine drips its last drops of golden honey, the cap is screwed on the last jar of honey and the Tennille Road Honey label is put on, the Bagleys are satisfied.
But they are not fully satisfied until they’re in the kitchen pouring local wildflower honey over waffles and enjoying the fruits of their labor and that of the bees inhabiting the colorful hives on Tennille Road.
Jaine Treadwell is a freelance writer from Brundidge.