I picked up beekeeping during the pandemic as a way to create some honey as a gift for clients and as a way to spend more time helping nature be all it can be. I also find that spending some time with the bees helps me be more “present” and less distracted in my client interactions – because you have to be on your “A” game when you’re invading the home of tens of thousands of stinging insects. I started with two hives and have expanded my apiary to two locations (one in Farragut, TN, and a second one in unincorporated Cumberland County, TN). I’ve also completed courses from many organizations, including the Tennessee Beekeepers Association, University of Tennessee Master Beekeeping Program, the Midwest Master Beekeeping Program, and have passed the certification exam to be a bee club bee inspector in Tennessee.
I also talk to school kids about bees when requested. The honey is a tasty treat for my clients and is currently not for sale at any price (although that could change if my ladies produce more honey this year).
You can follow the bees on Instagram – @tnvalleybees
(God Save) The Queens
The queens of the colonies in my apiary are named after female rock stars, with a few 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.
Tennessee Valley Bee Ranch (Weather)
- Janice Joplin – (hive temperature)
- Yoko Ono – (hive temperature)
- Stevie Nicks – (hive temperature)
- Joan Jett – (hive temperature)
- Grace Slick – (hive temperature)
- Moon Unit Zappa – (hive temperature)
- Grace Kelly – (hive temperature)
- Nancy Sinatra – (hive temperature)
Mountain Creek Bee Ranch (Weather)
(Note that this apiary will open when my bees arrive in mid-April, 2023 – but I’m working hard to set up fences and hives for the ladies.)
- Ann Wilson – (hive temperature)
- Debbie Harry – (hive temperature)
- Dolly Parton II – (hive temperature)
- Dolores O’Riordan – (hive temperature)
- Tina Turner – (hive temperature)
Future hive names (for splits and swarms) include the following singers:
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.
We honor the memory of all former queens, including Dolly Parton I and Mama Cass Elliot. These queens were either deposed or victims of tragedies; these hives didn’t make it, and I’ve decided to make a fresh start for each of these names.
Retired Hive Names
- Dolly Parton I was a very productive “hot hive” which was difficult to handle and this hive’s angry temperament resulted in this colony being exiled to the St. Helena apiary (in rural, southwestern Cumberland County) in the summer 2022. Unfortunately, Dolly was deposed and was a victim of regicide shortly after she began her exile. NFL Hall of Fame running back OJ Simpson is reportedly 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 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“