All About The Bees

I picked up beekeeping during the pandemic as a way to create some honey as a gift for clients and as an excuse to learn more about our ecosystems and spend more time in the great outdoors. I started with two hives and have grown my apiary up to ten hives. The honey is a tasty treat for my clients and friends, and is not for sale at any price.

Tennessee Valley Bee Ranch Head Beekeeper Brian Tankersley hamming it up for the camera at a school visit in the fall of 2022

(God Save) The Queens

The queens of the colonies in my apiary are named after female rock stars, with a couple of exceptions (click on the name to read the namesake’s Wikipedia article). I track the hive temps with Broodminder devices (temps should be between 92-98 F, temps outside that range may be indicative of a problem. Nancy Sinatra also has a BeeMate device – a webcam which counts the number of bees coming and going, as well as notes which incoming bees are carrying pollen.

Nancy Sinatra is responsible for all interaction with the public, and is shown below in her observation hive, which she uses to interact with children and other subjects of her realm.

HRH Nancy Sinatra held an audience for Mrs. Proffitt’s kindergartners at Farragut Primary School in Fall 2022 using this observation hive, which displays a brood frame through glass.

We honor the memory of all former queens, including Dolly Parton and Mama Cass Elliot. These queens were either deposed or victims of tragedies; these hives didn’t make it, and I’ve decided to not assign these names to future queens.

  • Dolly Parton was a very productive “hot hive” which was difficult to handle and this hive’s angry temperament resulted in this colony being exiled to St. Helena in the summer 2022. Unfortunately, Dolly was deposed and was a victim of regicide shortly after she began her exile. OJ Simpson is assisting me in looking for the “real killers”.
  • Mama Cass was one of the original hives in my apiary in 2021, and 2021’s iteration didn’t survive her first winter. I assigned that name to a new hive in 2022, and that hive also didn’t make it – I think they were victims of either birds or hornets – so the name is officially retired.

What About the Honey?

Our honey is shared with others in one pound jars (which actually hold 12 fluid ounces) with the following label and text:

This label was commissioned for my honey jars and was created by Kara Johnson, a local artist.

This jar represents the life’s work of thousands of our bees.  The ladies of our apiary spend their six short weeks here on Earth foraging the finest flowers in Farragut, Tennessee (Knox County) for nectar to bring back to their hives.  Our all-natural wildflower honey includes small pieces of the honeycomb which the bees used to store the honey and includes trace amounts of the local pollen harvested by the bees. Our apiary produces a tiny amount of honey in small batches which are harvested and bottled only when the honey is at its peak.  We take pride in the work, and do not add anything to dilute or otherwise modify this raw, unfiltered honey, which is one of nature’s masterpieces.    We hope you enjoy it with those you love.  DO NOT FEED HONEY TO CHILDREN LESS THAN ONE YEAR OF AGE.

Honey Tip: Do not refrigerate, or the honey will crystallize.  Crystallized honey can be made fluid again by immersing the jar in hot water for a few minutes. 

Produced by Adept Practices, Inc. dba TN Valley Bee Ranch, TNDA Reg # BCOL-C2JJ2R

Weather Station

Since bees are influenced so strongly by the weather, we have a weather station which tracks the weather near the apiary in real time. (The data from this device is posted on Weather Underground.)