It all started when Savannah Bee Company owner Ted Dennard was 13 years old and met Roy Hightower, a renowned beekeeper who was scouting out a spot for his hives to harvest “Swamp Honey” made from the nectar of swamp dwelling White Tupelo tree blossoms. At first, the bee swarms intimidated Ted but when Roy twirled a frame of honeycomb with sunlight shining through like a stained glass window, Ted was hooked for life. He kept bees throughout his high school and college years. During his Peace Corps tour of duty, Ted taught beekeeping to village farmers in Central America. He traveled the world to see bees making medicinal Manuka honey in New Zealand, Rubber honey in Vietnam, Logwood honey in Jamaica, Heather honey in Ireland, and the famous Tilleul Lavender honey of France.
Upon returning home to Georgia, Ted continued keeping bees along the Altamaha River. In addition to extracting his honey and pouring it into unique bottles, he also crafted lip balms with the wax from his hives. Mixed with luscious essential oils, he poured the formula into tiny tins and gave them to friends and family. The word spread quickly when he started selling his home-extracted Tupelo honey around town in 1998. Ted recalls, “I was bottling honey in the kitchen and
keeping bees on the roof.” When more Savannah stores wanted to sell his honey, he moved operations to the garage.
It just so happened that during this same time, his friend was opening a new store in downtown Savannah and convinced him to bottle and sell his honey in her store. Soon, more and more stores called wanting to sell Ted’s honey, one among them being Dean and Deluca. At this point, Ted made the leap from kitchen to officially forming his company in 2002.
In the beginning, Savannah Bee Company was built on relationships with smaller boutiques. Then a year later, Ted made his first appearance at the Fancy Food Show where Williams-Sonoma, Neiman-Marcus, Crate & Barrel and others discovered his honey. In October 2008, Savannah Bee opened their flagship store on Broughton St. in the middle of downtown Savannah. Since then, Savannah Bee has continued wholesaling honey and his aromatic beeswax body creams and lip balms all over the country.
My favorite in Savannah Bee Company’s lineup is their signature Tupelo honey. The best I can describe it is light and zingy with plenty of character…a true southern gem that’s worth going out of your way to try!
Photos courtesy of Steve Mirsky. Coverage made possible by participating in a sponsored trip.