'How to be a Bee Keeper'

By: Nicole Morten Email
By: Nicole Morten Email

Its that time of year again- local beekeepers are getting ready for the sweet success of honey season. In Thursday’s "Nicole Wants to Know" segment, NewsChannel 7’s Nicole Morten shows us a local bee keeper's passion for honey.

When most people spot a bee their first reaction is to run for the hills. Well, that' not the case for James Rish. And he's all about the honey right now, and I’m not talking about any old honey...I'm talking Tupelo.

In the 1870’s in Gulf County, about every third person was an Apiarist, also known as a bee keeper. Now…

“There’s only nine certified beekeepers in Gulf County, and I’m one of them,” said James Rish, Wewahitchka Bee Keeper.

Talk about keeping the family tradition alive, since 1885, James Rish and his family have branded their name into Tupelo Honey. It’s become quite a delicacy for its unique and distinctive flavor.

“This part of Northwest Florida is pretty much the only place in the world you get Tupelo Honey.”

Rish takes his job seriously and it’s safe to say he knows bees better than most people. He knows them so well, he’s got them eating out of the palm of his hand.

“When you know and understand bees you can have them eat out of your hand, but there not a threat to me and I’m not a threat to them.”

Bee Keeping is a time-consuming--full time job, so Rish begins his day bright and early. He starts in the honey house; loading and unloading the boxes to take to the apiary, or bee yard . After Rish gathers up the boxes full of honeycombs, he heads back to the honey house to harvest the honey.

“Once you harvest the honey, you have to uncap it,” said Rish. “What I do is bring the honey in on palettes, put the boxes of honey combs on the elevator then drop them right here and this machine takes the capping off of the comb.”

And all that work goes into this right here.

Rish sells his honey wherever he can. On his front porch, at Mt. of Olives on 23rd Street in Panama City, and of course, the Tupelo Honey Festival.

“Tupelo is known as liquid gold,” said Rish.

That’s why people across the world come to the Tupelo Honey Festival in Wewahitchka to get a taste of the sweet stuff.

The annual Tupelo Honey Festival is this Saturday, May 16th, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. James Rish will be there along with live music, food and lots of Tupelo.

If you want to know something interesting or unusual about a job or something in the community, shoot Nicole Morten an email at: nicole.morten@wjhg.com and your story could be on the next segment of "Nicole Wants to Know"

Some footage courtesy: Tom Wynn Jr. on his feature film "Tupelo Honey & The Amazing World of Bee Keeping." For a copy of Tom Wynn Jr.'s DVD which features James Rish, you can contact him at 850-819-3891 or 850-639-3645.

Where to purchase the Rish Tupelo Honey:

James Rish 850-639-3645

Tupelo Honey Festival at Alice Park in Wewahitchka
Only on Saturday May 16
Contact: 850-639-2605

Mt. of Olives Health Food Store
728 W 23rd St, Panama City, FL‎ - (850) 784-9001‎

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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by James Rish Location: Wewahitchka, Florida on Jun 23, 2010 at 08:04 PM
    Dear WJHG, Thank you for your choosing me for your clip on Tupelo Honey production. My family has been doing this business each year since the 1880's and I am honored to carry on this tradition. Beekeeping is very hard for anyone especially in this day when on top of everything else we have mites, South African Hive Beetles, and African Killer Bees in Tampa. This year 2010 the high winds took away most the blooms. No blooms, no nectar, no nectar-no honey, no honey-no money. Thank you, Jim Rish
  • by Terry Pryor Location: Clearwater, Florida on Dec 26, 2009 at 11:28 PM
    I can't wait to come up to Wewatchkiwa to see the _"best of the best" in bee-keeping, especially Don Smiley and The Laniers.
  • by Marcia Location: Panama City on May 15, 2009 at 04:12 PM
    Our family enjoys going to the tupelo honey festival every year. Lots of music and a very family oriented place. The kiddos also enjoyed tasting the honey and theres lots of eats
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