PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (WJHL)– Just across the train tracks and nestled into Craftsman’s Valley at Dollywood, you’ll find Sevierville native Alan Frankenberg with roughly 30,000 bees.
“We like to think more educational than selling, honey. We really enjoy the educational aspect,” he said from the Hug-A-Bee Honey booth. He’s back in the Smoky Mountains at the park he grew up at, selling honey with his company as part of the park’s Flower and Food Festival.
“I grew up here so literally my entire childhood. My mom worked here. So growing up here as a young child, just being able to see the park and to be honest, the bald eagle sanctuary is what made me interested in animals at all,” said Frankenberg. “And just seeing how fascinating the insect is and how God created really probably one of the most perfect insects that can do anything, which is amazing.”
Frankenberg started out in the hospitality industry just like his mom but his start was in food and beverage.
“I started in the back of the house, the heart of the house, some culinary. And then as I transitioned to Orlando, I became a wine director for the Ritz Carlton, as well as the Waldorf-Astoria in central Florida. So I really fell in love with the whole aspect of how wine is made and that’s really how I got into beekeeping as well,” he said. “I was making my own wine instead of using bleach sugar to create my alcohol content white wine. We started using honey, bought a couple of hives, and now we’re growing significantly.”
As the park sees thousands of guests each day, Frankenberg looks at each one as an opportunity to talk about honeybees and what they do.
“The honeybee is in severe decline and it’s population control as well as pesticides and really just educating people on it. There [are] a million different treatments that they can use,” he said. “When you use pesticides, you can wipe out wipe out an entire colony, which is at roughly a hundred thousand bees, all in just a matter of moments by using chemicals that there [are] so many different alternatives to be able to use.”
While Frankenberg enjoys educating people, he also likes creating honey for them to enjoy.
“Our local honey is a wildflower honey. Don’t really like calling this ‘sourwood’ because bees fly up to two miles. They can literally grab anything that they want, he said. “In August, we take all of our bees back down to Florida. So we produce Brazilian pepper honey in August and September, and then February, March, we do an orange blossom as well.”
Frankenberg said it’s quite the process for bees to travel.
“We load them all up on a flatbed, almost like a semi-looking piece. And we strap them all down and we start the trip out at night. They tend to overheat there in the daytime,” said Frankenberg. “It’s an 11 and 12-hour trip all the way back down to central Florida.”
Hug-A-Bee Honey will be at the park through June 11.