Savannah Bee Company opened its doors at 123 N. Main St. with little fanfare last fall and just as quietly closed its doors in January.
Following a hiatus and a store renovation, the popular Savannah-based company is reopening its doors on March 27 with a full stock of honey and health-and-beauty products, along with a new “honey cafe” concept.
Company founder Ted Dennerd said the new Greenville spot, which is the 15th Savannah Bee Company location, was designed to be one of the most expansive storefronts the company has to offer.
“It’ll be only one of three stores we have that has the honey cafe concept in it,” Dennerd said. “We can serve things like chocolate honey lattes, hot biscuits with honeycomb on it, and all kinds of stuff.”
That also includes a bar serving mead (sometimes called honey wine), an alcoholic beverage created by fermenting honey, which holds the historical honor by being the earliest known alcoholic beverage in human history. Fun fact: When you see paintings of Vikings glugging from horn-shaped cups at their feasts, they were drinking mead.
Beyond offering Viking-friendly beverages, Dennerd also hopes the store can serve as an educational opportunity for those who typically only consume honey from store-brand teddy bear bottles. Such mass-produced honey is highly heated and highly filtered, with countless different types of honey blended together, the goal being not to highlight a particular flavor but rather to get the honey to look a certain color — that familiar gold.
“That doesn’t mean it’s bad,” Dennerd said, “but contrast that with a beekeeper taking great pride and care in maintaining his or her hives and assuring the honey that is produced is all from, say, just the blossoms of an orange tree, or a tupelo tree. There is a lot of art and science in it, and you can really taste the difference.”
It’s a difference as significant as comparing a Bud Lite to a South Carolina craft beer, or a box of Franzia to a bottle of Italian Chianti.
“Different color, different taste, and even the composition of sugars will be different,” Dennerd said.
His passion for honey started early, when he was just 13 years old and an elderly gentleman by the name of Roy Hightower schooled him in the age-old tradition of beekeeping.
“I remember him holding up a frame of honey to the sun, and it looked like stained glass,” Dennerd said. “I was enthralled.”
As bees now face habitat loss and deadly parasitic mites that have spread across the globe, Dennerd hopes he can do his part to enthrall the youth of today to continue the tradition and be good stewards of one of the most vital components of our ecosystem.
“Once you learn to love the bees, you can’t help it,” he said. “You just need to be properly introduced to them, and once you are, it’s hard not to love them.”