ORANGEBURG, S.C. — Locally sourced honey in South Carolina is all the buzz. According to Discover South Carolina, honey is nearly a $2 million a year industry in the state. However, for small beekeepers like Bob Walker, keeping up with demand comes at a cost.
“Beekeeping’s not a cheap hobby. I mean each one of those boxes we just looked in was $25, the bottom board was $25, the frame was $30 so it adds up very quickly," said certified Welsh honey judge Sheryl Brousseau, there are policies in place to help small beekeepers maximize their honey sales.
The state has what's known as the home-based food production law, and it was amended last year to include honey productions.
“The cottage food law is really, the only reason we have one is to support small businesses," said Brousseau.
What this new change means is that non-potentially hazardous foods, including honey, are exempt from food safety oversight by DHEC and the Department of Agriculture.
For small businesses and beekeepers, if they produce less than 400 gallons of honey, they will have the opportunity to sell their products at home, online, and even in retail stores without regulation.
Walker says although the act helps his business in some ways, there's still room for improvement.
“If I were to sell to like Food Lion, and then Food Lion’s reselling it, well then it changes the whole ballgame even though it’s not that much different," said Walker.
As beekeepers across the state prepare to harvest their honey for the season, experts want them to know there are resources available through the Department of Agriculture that could help them get the most bang out of their buck.
“Beekeeping is growing by leaps and bounds in South Carolina, like I have never seen," said Walker.