A Killer Tour

The mood was that of a classy high-end wine tasting at the Killer Bees Honey farm, located at 3,500 feet of elevation at Sean and Denise Collinsworth’s immaculate home in Lake Toxaway, adjacent to half a million acres of Pisgah National Forest. They offer four-hour long farm tours during the summer, complete with a honey tasting and hands-on education regarding honey bees.

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Sean laid out a full lesson on bee behavior, sociology, biology, and how they make their honey, complete with videos and photos. This was knowledge gleaned over the decades, absorbed from when he started beekeeping at age 12, and it was an interesting delve into the life of bees, who have a complex social structure and whose actions always go toward benefitting the hive. The instruction covered the challenges of keeping an apiary, the bee caste system, what makes honey taste a certain way, and anything else you could think to ask about honey bees.

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And then it was time to suit up. The bee suits covered our bodies, complete with veils, so that we were safeguarded when inspecting the nearby hives, one of several that provide honey for the operation, both on site and in the forest. We removed frame after frame, the smoke-tamed bees plodding about for our observation. The behavior was fascinating, the creatures moving in structured order while Sean explained what they were doing.

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He describes the honey as artisanal, and among the purest in the world, lab tested as having no trace of pesticides. The purity is owed to the bees gathering pollen from the adjacent national forest, where no agricultural land is found. It’s a callback to the days of yore, before large scale farming polluted with its byproducts.

After inspecting and learning about the hives, the suits came off and we were back inside, ready to taste the honey along with a scrumptious sampling of scones, cheese, meat, fruits, yogurt and champagne, of course, prepared behind the scenes by Denise. Classical music played in the background, the boundless view of the mountains laid out before us as we tried several kinds of delicious honey. Tour groups range from couples to bachelorette parties, all here to learn and have a good time. When you’ve had your fill of tromping through the trails and forests of Jackson County, this is the place to come for a little civility.

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The tour concluded with a look at one of the out buildings where the honey is processed, all done by Sean and Denise on specialized machines, not cutting any corners, and focusing on purity and taste. It’s a process that is laborious, time intensive, and detail oriented. The resulting honey is worth all the hard work put in by the bees and beekeeper.

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About the Author

About the Author: Pat Barcas serves as Creative Resources Manager for RTX, based in Asheville, NC. You can find him hiking the mountains of Asheville, gardening, traveling, and hanging with his growing family. His favorite RTX exchange destinations are Rangeley, Maine, Lake Tahoe, Banff, Canada, New Smyrna Beach, Florida, Cape Cod, and Orange Beach, Alabama. .

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