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edisto gold honey bee hives

Sustainable Beekeeping with Edisto Gold Honey

, by Erin Byers Murray

Mark Connelly, the cofounder of Edisto Gold Honey, has a long history of beekeeping that began when he was 16 years old. His mother inherited four hives and sent Connelly and his brother to beekeeping classes to learn the trade so that they could assist in the operation. This sparked a lifelong passion that stayed with him through his studies at the Citadel and his careers in law enforcement and carpentry.

edisto gold honey in it's packaging

Throughout that time, Connelly worked with bees and helped local farmers pollinate their crops with his hives, and when he met David Anderson, founder of Black Pearl Blueberry Farm, the two realized they could turn Connelly’s beekeeping operation into a business and launched Edisto Gold Honey. 

After a few years of spreading their honey throughout the Lowcountry, Connelly was approached by Kiawah River Farm, an “agrihood” located on Johns Island, South Carolina, about placing hives on their property to help pollinate their crops and to provide honey through a neighborhood CSA program. Kiawah River Farm is passionate about sustainability, and its mission is to provide a true farm-to-table community for its residents.

In the neighborhood, you’ll find sweeping fields of wildflowers, thriving crops, a goatery, herds of cattle, and chicken that provide fresh ingredients to the Kiawah River Farm community. Connelly’s bees play a crucial role in this operation, as they pollinate the crops and create biodiversity, which contributes to the overall health of the environment. To express the importance of this process, Connelly quotes Einstein: “If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth, man would only have four years left to live.”

edisto gold blueberry honey

While beekeeping may seem straightforward, it is no easy task. The process from placing a new hive to harvest takes about a year and requires constant maintenance to ensure that the hive is establishing itself and isn’t being attacked by pests such as the varroa mite. The environment around the hives also poses a challenge to being able to provide truly organic honey, as honeybees can fly up to five miles. Connelly must be aware of everything that’s happening within that range to ensure the bees don’t encounter pesticides from neighboring crops or chemicals from aerial sprays.

The partnership between Kiawah River Farm and Edisto Gold Honey is a perfect example of the benefits of supporting local businesses and promoting sustainability to create a win-win situation for everyone involved—especially the Kiawah River Farm residents, who have instant access to the ingredients produced there.

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