SEASIDE, Fla. (WJHG) - For one Freeport family owning a honey bee farm is full of sweet rewards.
One local family of veterans now own its own bee farm. (WJHG)
"To really understand the Register Family Farm, you have to kind of understand our family," said Brand Manager Melissa Register.
And there are a lot of them to understand including mom and dad, Gerry and Shelley Register.
"They had six kids and all six of us were Army Officers," said Melissa. "We all went into the Army as officers commissioned from north Georgia college and state university over a number of years."
Several of the six are married to veterans.
"Joseph's wife Elizabeth was also a military officer. Katherine's husband Alexx was a medical service officer," said Melissa. "They're all actually working in the bee farm. So there's actually seven of us ex-Army officers that do the bee farm together."
So how does one transition from military life to farm life?
"It all started really with my brother Jeremiah," founder of Register Family Farm Joseph Register. "He is passionate about fruit trees and he was planting an orchard and in that discussion, he talked about getting some honey bees."
One thing led to another and before they knew it this family of veterans owned 1,200 colonies of bees.
There is only one sibling not part of the family affair. She's now in the Navy and still active duty, so she gets a pass.
"The other five of us kids and the spouses and my parents do the bee farm together," said Melissa. "So there are ten grandchildren now from my parents and we all kind of work and live in the same place there."
It's a good thing this family is no stranger to hard work because they are always busy as, well, bees.
"So much honey is brought into the United States from the Asian countries, over half, that it really floods our market and lowers the price and beekeeping is very difficult," said Melissa. "For the amount of work that goes into producing honey you can't get the price that you should get for it. So producing honey alone is not sustainable income."
"People may not realize but only 17% of feral colonies make it past a year and after that, it dies off significantly," said Joseph. "Without beekeepers and people showing an interest in supporting bees and beekeepers the population will decline and it will severely impact both the quantity and variety of the food we eat."
To help pay the bills the Registers have pollination contracts.
"That means we load the bees up on semi-trucks and send them wherever they're needed," said Melissa. "We just got off a watermelon field so we just did watermelon pollination for a farmer."
The bees work during the day, meaning they leave the hive to pollinate, so the only time to safely move them is at night when they're all back home.
Joseph actually did the research and came up with recipes to use in making all of the products they sell.
"He was just phenomenal in figuring out what the health benefits were," said Melissa. "He put the formulas together and came up with the product line."
Dad builds all the equipment.
"He's an innovator, he's always owned his own business," said Melissa.
And Mom helps market and sell the product.
But the real hard work is keeping the bees healthy. That's the job of Jeremiah, James, and Alexx.
"Jeremiah is just instrumental and the success that we have is due to his particular way of doing things," said Joseph.
That's followed by harvesting the honey and then making the products.
"We make all our own products. They are all formulated by us and handmade by us," said Melissa. "Everything pretty much from start to finish is hand done by us from the farm side to the finished product you see on the table."
The Registers are passionate about what they offer.
"We think it's very important for people to understand why our product is different and why the things we put in our products are so beneficial to people's health," said Melissa.
While it is a lot of hard work and they seem to be together 24/7 this close-knit family says they wouldn't have it any other way.
"This is our blood, sweat, and tears," said Melissa.
Some of their products include Tupelo and wildflower honey as well as creamed honey.
"Creamed honey is a controlled process of crystallization," said Melissa. "It comes out spun or whipped. It looks like butter. It has that kind of butter consistency."
Those are offered in wildflower or cinnamon.
"My favorite way to eat the wildflower cream honey is with peanut butter on a sandwich it's like really creamy and delicious," said Melissa.
The cinnamon is made with Ceylon cinnamon.
"It's is the most premium cinnamon," said Melissa. "It has a lot of good health benefits for us. It's anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial. With the honey it's a great boost for your immune system, it's good for cardiovascular health. But my favorite way to eat this is on a sweet potato."
They also sell several lip balms, soaps, and lotion.
To check out their products you can go to their website. There you can also read more about the family members and their military service.
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