In Ted’s own words, “It took root as a boy, unbeknownst to me. I was just following a joy–a love of bees.” Ted grew up on St. Simon’s Island, Georgia, and was first introduced to honey as a 12-year old boy. An elderly beekeeper named Roy Hightower offered young Ted an education in beekeeping, which opened his eyes to a world of magic and wonder that remains with him 30 years later. Indeed, bees and honey became Ted’s way of life, and the passion for bees has taken him around the world: Ted taught beekeeping to village farmers in Central America in a two-year tour with the Peace Corps, he traveled the world to see bees making honey in New Zealand, Vietnam, Jamaica, Ireland, and France. “They’ve basically followed me, or I them, ever since I met Old Roy,” he says.
In 1999, Ted made his first crop of Tupelo and Gallberry honey that he began selling to stores. Each jar was extracted, poured, and labeled by hand. “I was bottling honey in the kitchen and keeping bees on the roof,” he recalls.
The word got out and the success of his little operation forced a decision upon Ted and he decided to go for it. “After opening up my gut and risking it all, doors began opening. Looking back, it seems so small, but at the time, it was huge.”
In addition to his blooming honey business, Bath and Body Works developed a body care brand with Ted in 2006. The line was 30 mostly-natural products, staying true to the Savannah Bee Company look and personality. Two years later, Ted took the reins of Savannah Bee body care production, scaled the line down, and reformulated to be 100% natural, and certified organic when possible.
2011 finds Ted operating a 40,000 square foot warehouse on Wilmington Island, a bridge’s distance from the City of Savannah. Ted led Savannah Bee Company to the Inc. 5000 list in both 2009 and 2010. Savannah Bee operates four retail stores, bottles two distinct lines of world-class honeys, and manufactures an all-natural beeswax-based body care line. Today’s operation is stark contrast to the days in Ted’s kitchen, but his passion has never changed. “I just love it,” he says. “I can’t imagine doing anything else.”