It has been 10 years. I officially started Savannah Bee Company in January 2002. Wow. A decade – 10 years of my life – devoted to this child, the offspring of my relationship with bees. And what a child it has been – growing like a beanstalk, demanding to be fed, insisting on constant attention, more attention than I could give. She grew into a mega-hive, requiring more workers to tend to her needs. Like worker bees, people have come and worked their wings off and been replaced in a never-ending parade. Countless people have helped us become who we are. Savannah Bee bookkeepers, receptionists, salesmen and women, bottlers, honeycomb cutters, shippers, body care specialists, web designers, social media folks, cooks… Certainly thanks is due as well to the family and friends, the mentors and also the inspiring writers and founders of other companies that offered encouragement for me to start and to persevere. Thank you to the many beekeepers who share the joy and journey of a life lived through bees. Their many thousands of hives help provide our lifeblood. And too, bankers, lawyers, accountants, designers, printers, packaging manufacturers, label companies, glass distributors, landlords, volunteers, cleaners, pest control, government agencies, a myriad of editors, writers, engineers, plumbers, electricians, welders, machine manufacturers… the list goes on.
I couldn’t have done it without my Father who backed my dream by co-signing loans. My Mother and Sister drove me to make them proud by their unwavering delight in my accomplishments. My Brother and Friends have stood beside me and picked up my flagging enthusiasm and kept the trade shows and sales alive. My wife and children (not to mention dogs, cats, chickens, bees, fish and turtles) had to endure neglect and absenteeism while I attempted to keep up with my overgrown and demanding company.
Man, it has been tough at best, a juggling act for someone learning how to do it on the fly. I studied religion and philosophy at Sewanee. Business has been a trial by fire. My passion for honeybees and honey has carried me through, been my fall back. That passion is the
soul of the company. Somehow I never tire of swimming in the presence of those golden gifts of Nature. I often quote Pliny the Elder (circa 70 AD) “Nature in her entirety is nowhere more seen than in Her smallest creatures.” I see the hand of God in them, these most benevolent of all beings. Honeybees live a poetic life of Midas, where all they touch is benefited. They have created a place on this Earth that is the most admirable of the species.
The song they sing each day, and have been for 150 million years, is a harvesting of the collected sunshine that gives us life. Their symbiotic partnership with the plant world is the reason our world looks the way it does with all of its flowering plants. Stop me now! Needless to say, I love honeybees and I won’t even go into how much I love honey right now.
Ten years, more like 13 if you count my first bottles sold. And 33 years of beekeeping. Mostly, I think about and thank old Roy Hightower, who introduced me to this world and, unbeknownst to me, nudged me into the stream of my destiny and gave me my purpose. For all who have rallied behind my banner of the bee, I can only hope they’ve gotten something meaningful out of their time here.
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I write this in the dim light of a struggling beeswax candle, wondering whether it was a symbol of my circumstance. There is a natural clogging that comes from a candle burning unprotected outside in the real world, on this porch overlooking the tidal marshes and the Ocean. Is my flame dimming? And just now, I dug out the errant insects and flotsam that surrounded the wick and the candle has sprung back to vibrant life, dancing tall and bright. Maybe the start of the next 10 years should begin with my removing the obstacles that prevent my flame from being fed. Hmm. Thanks, Roy. I have always imagined you pulling the marionette strings that have blessed me and this company. I hope and trust that your arms never tire.