By Susan Benton
Walton County is flourishing with an abundance of farmers and producers supplying the highest quality products to locals and visitors, and their bounty is often celebrated in many restaurant presentations along the Gulf Coast.
Register Family Farm is one of those businesses, an aviary (honeybee farm) operated solely by members of the Register family and located in Freeport, not far north from the beaches of South Walton.
Joseph and Jeremiah are managing partners of Register Family Farm, a concept that sprouted from Jeremiah’s intentions to initially just plant fruit trees. Once the trees were in place, the family (which includes six siblings) decided that pollinating their garden with honeybees was the next logical step.
The enthusiasm for beekeeping swept over them all, and now with 500 colonies, Register Family Farm is a sweetly successful business.
Currently, Joseph and Jeremiah handle the day to day operations of the aviary and colony management, while their father, Gerry, is the constant innovator who is always seeking optimal ways to move the bees, improve the process, and he handcrafts the pallets and wooden ware that is needed. Joseph said, “The last five years have been a whirlwind of bee stings, heavy lifting, and long days and nights, but we would not have it any other way!”
Spending countless hours behind the scenes as mothers typically do is Shelley, who supports all facets of Register Family Farm operations, and ensures that everyone has what they need to be prepared and to succeed, including feeding her hard working family members when the lunch bell rings.
With world wide concern about the plight of honeybees, as well as feeding hives sugar water in order for them to produce honey in large quantities, Joseph explained that feeding bees at Register Family Farm is the last option, and only done along with a protein supplement in winter months if a colony is about to collapse.
“The goal is not to feed the bees and hopefully Mother Nature will cooperate. We place our honeybees on properties around the county with specific blooms so the bees can get the best natural nutrients to survive. If a hive is not thriving we give them a boost because our goal is to keep them alive,” Joseph said.
Together, Joseph and his wife Elisabeth handle most of the product development, production, packaging and selling. They transitioned into the retail market slowly, because as a family they wanted to be very particular about doing things well.
Each product spends a considerable amount of time in testing before being approved for sale. The raw, natural, unfiltered, unpasteurized, and never heated wildflower and Tupelo honey, beeswax candles, soaps, and lip balms are among the most popular items offered, but the superfood, bee pollen, is garnering a lot of attention.
Bee pollen is the food of the young and it is approximately 40% protein. It is considered one of nature’s most nourishing foods containing nearly all nutrients required by humans. The pollen is collected when the bees enter the hive by causing them to squeeze through a couple layers of mesh that scrape roughly half of the pollen off of their legs. It then falls into a tray for collection.
Register Family Farm also breeds queen bees, selectively grafting for honey production, disease resistance, and gentleness. Everyone in the family is involved in the process of raising queens, and it is rewarding for them to know that the Register Family Farm hives are thriving with the queens that they produced.
Wanting to keep the buzz about beekeeping at the forefront of young minds, the Register family often visits elementary schools and Boy & Girl Scout troops to share their knowledge, bringing along bee observation hives for the children to view.
“It’s a cool thing for our family to come together, be at our best, and produce a quality product. It has been an adventure and a blessing,” said Joseph.
For more information about Register Family Farm or to purchase their wonderful line of products, please visit their website at www.registerfamilyfarm.com or call (850) 603-0215. Visit 30A Eats on Instagram.