The City Magazine Since 1975

Bee Productive

November 2018
Bee Productive
PHOTOGRAPHER: 

Horsecreek Honey Farms bucks the hive-mind approach with its entirely raw honey 

As a child, Farron Tucker acted as an unnofficial beekeeper for his Uncle Heyward. “He would go to rob the bees and tell me to stay on the porch,” recalls Tucker. “Of course, I was young and hardheaded, so I would follow him out there.” On his eighth birthday, Uncle Heyward gave Tucker a hive of his own—a gift that led to a lifetime passion for beekeeping and the eventual formation of Horsecreek Honey Farms, a buzzing operation dedicated to making pure, local honey.

Kathy Bayer, who partnered with Tucker on the enterprise, entered the honey business later in life. After raising chickens in her backyard, adding hives seemed like the natural next step. Tucker had roughly 100 hives when she approached him looking to buy more for herself, and their combined enthusiasm led to a business. “I had always wanted to have my own business. I saw what Farron was doing with his bees and I was extremely passionate about it, so we started to grow his hives,” says Bayer. Today, Horsecreek, headquartered in Bowman, South Carolina, and Clarkson, Nebraska, has hives scattered on more than 6,000 acres throughout South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Nebraska—a connection made thanks to Bayer’s roots in the Cornhusker state.

Sweet Deal: Farron Tucker and Kathy Bayer have grown their collection of hives to four states.

Honey is harvested only four to six weeks out of the year. “It takes 12 bees their entire lifetime to make a teaspoon of honey,” says Bayer. But that doesn’t mean the farmers can relax the rest of the year. There is always work to be done, whether it’s repairing equipment, monitoring bee health, or selling beekeeper packages.

Despite the ups and downs of the industry—including declining bee populations—educating consumers and budding beekeepers inspires Tucker and Bayer to push forward. While most grocery store honey has been processed (meaning it’s been heated over the natural temperature found in a hive), honey from Horsecreek is completely raw. According to Bayer, the benefit is in the flavor. “There are so many notes, especially with the various nectar sources we pull from. It just tastes totally different,” she says.

Farm Out: Farron Tucker holds up a comb filled with bees at Horsecreek Honey Farms in Bowman.

Horsecreek also offers flavored products, such as “Killer Bee Honey,” a spicy option with hints of ‘Carolina Reaper’ peppers, and milder offerings infused with lavender and vanilla bean.

The honey can be enjoyed at numerous locations throughout the Lowcountry, such as Page’s Okra Grill, The Harbinger, and Husk, or purchased at Sweetgrass Ace Hardware and Royall Ace Hardware in Mount Pleasant.