In today’s world it seems that trust in food has been lost and for many good reasons. As the saying goes, “you trust your mother but you still cut the cards”. And that is the approach that we take here at Savannah Bee Company. In the beginning I worked my hives, produced all the honey by moving my beehives from Tupelo Swamps to Mountain Sourwood Forests and finally to the Coastal forests where they lived until the following Spring brought the Tupelo blossoms again. To me this produced the best honey in the world- Tupelo, Sourwood and Wildflower honeycombs. Eventually the demand for the honey began to outpace my supply. The result is today’s loose confederation of beekeepers who produce the honey that we now bottle. Over the last twelve years I have built this network of fantastic beekeepers who, through apprenticeship of their father or some elder beekeeper, have become the best at producing the type of honey we want to sell. I never had more than 50 beehives and that wouldn’t supply but a fraction of what we sell. So, the transition to handing over the production of our precious honey while maintaining the quality I needed was very hard for me. But, just like in hiring the right people to help run the business, my getting the right people to help with the honey supply was a process. Imperfect in the beginning, today I feel very lucky to have the fantastic group of hardworking craftsmen and women that make us proud to bottle their honey. And truly, I couldn’t have done a better job myself. I have come to realize that my best asset is my ability to know honey and to be able to package it well and market to the public. In that realization and in my giving up the honey production aspect of the company, Savannah Bee has been able to really grow and flourish.
I can taste the honey and tell how pure it is and if there is some other minor nectar source other than say, the tupelo blossom that contributed to the batch of honey. But even though I can taste how good the honey is, I still wanted to make sure there wasn’t some contaminant in there. Starting about 8 or 9 years ago I began sending samples of honey batches off to these two different labs in Germany that specialize in honey analysis. The Germans passed a law in 1976 that all imported honey be guaranteed pure and these labs are the best in the world. I believe the founder of QSI even helped to bring this law about. We test the honey for geographical and botanical origin to determine scientifically how pure the nectar source is (at least for some honey the geographical origin part is redundant because tupelo and sourwood honey is only made in my neck of the woods). We also test for adulteration with C3 or C4 sugars like corn syrup, cane sugar, rice syrup and beet sugar. Lastly, we test the honey for any PPB (parts per billion) of contaminants like miticides, antibiotics, from any possible misapplication of pest and disease treatments that may go on in the hives. And what do we always find? That the honey is perfect and is exactly what we thought it was. These beekeepers – who work incredibly hard all year keeping their hives alive and producing monofloral honeys out of sheer pride – are doing it the right way. The proof is in the honey.
I have always wanted to be that company that someone can trust to provide the best of the best. I never wanted anyone to have to worry about making any decision but the one to trust that in reaching for a bottle of Savannah Bee Honey they would get something above the usual, something distilled from flowers by our noble honeybees and taken care of by responsible beekeepers. As for the rumors of honey being adulterated with corn syrup and of Chinese honey being imported illegally and winding up on the store shelves, I am sure that it happens and there are cases where folks have gone to jail for their role in that. But one thing that I know with greater certainty is that our beekeepers are hardworking, honest people and I trust them even though I still cut the cards.
Submitted By: Ted Dennard