- ABOUT -
We are a family owned and operated apiary located in Ellijay, Georgia and our approach to beekeeping is simply to provide a suitable habitat and let the bees do the rest. We keep our bees in a remote area with plenty of natural forage and never add chemicals to our hives. The Bee Tree Farms team is made up of Tommy and Carey along with their two children Addy and Carter Blalock.
In 2018, we started beekeeping by purchasing two colonies of bees. This was definitely a learning year! Our apiary was a small area surrounded by a solar powered electric fence, just large enough for about a dozen hives.
February of 2019 was the start to a very busy beekeeping season. Our first two colonies had survived the winter and we purchased three additional colonies from a local supplier. In April we received our first call from a friend about a swarm that had landed on a tree branch in their neighbor’s yard. The entire family (and a bunch of the neighbors) witnessed Tommy collecting his first swarm of bees by hand! That was the only swarm we collected by hand that spring, but the swarm traps we put up in February provided us four more honeybee swarms. Bee Tree Farms had almost a dozen colonies and we were able to extract more honey at the end of the summer. At the end of the spring nectar flow, we were able to bottle 17 half pound containers of some of the best honey we had ever tasted.
The apiary was definitely a work in progress. We did not have enough stands built to support our new colonies so temporarily we left two colonies on a table outside of the apiary – not inside the electric fence. When we checked on them a few weeks later, we witnessed nature at it finest. A bear had come through the field and destroyed both of those colonies. Although we still had several in the apiary, protected by the electric fence, it was hard to lose those hives. But that was nothing compared to what happened five months later. Somehow the electric fence to the apiary wasn't working and yet again we had another bear attack. This time the bear demolished all of our hives. Not a single box was in tack. Wooden frames were shred to pieces, honeycomb was thrown everywhere, and there was not a bee to be found. To say the least, we were not pleased with Yogi!
Now with no honeybees and no hives, Bee Tree Farms had to start over. So once again, February 2020 was a very busy month. We decided to move the apiary closer to the house, expand the area, and upgrade the electric fence. At the same time, we also were constructing hives and swarm boxes and putting the swarm boxes up around the county in preparation of the upcoming swarm season. With the uncertainty of if we would catch any honeybee swarms, we decided again to purchase a few colonies to at least get us started. But this was the year that the honeybee gods smiled upon us! In April and May we collected 10 swarms in our swarm boxes and 8 more swarms from people who had swarms temporarily collect on their property on tree branches.
Bee Tree Farms is also in the process of splitting our current colonies so that they are less likely to swarm and increase honey production. We currently have around 30 honeybee colonies full of bees, larva, and honey. Carey and the kids also had the privilege of witnessing Yogi and her cub walk right by the electrified apiary. We were pleased that the 2 bears did not get in the apiary and repeat last year’s devastation!