A Sweet Local Company: Bee Friends Farm

A couple of months ago, I was over at Diamond D Horse Ranch for an event and ran into Bee Friends Farm and their honey products. At first, I didn’t think it was local, the logo and packaging just looked very corporate and national. I’m a huge honey fan and am always buying local honey, so I was shocked to find that it was a Jacksonville-based company.

I bought a bunch of items and took a couple of quick product photographs in our studio and I wanted to share some info about them as well as our own personal review!

Product Photography of Bee Friends Farms honey, labels and logo.

They had a product that I had never seen before called Roasted Toasted Salted Pecan Honey. They call it pecan pie in a jar. If you love pecans and honey, this is amazing. I honestly wasn’t sure what I would think of it, but I hid it from my kids so I wouldn’t have to share. I bought pecans and added it to the jar and added honey and it’s not the same, but it is getting me through my withdrawals! LOL.

I bought some for my mother in law as well and she said she thought it was weird but when she tasted it fell in love with it as well!

The company is run by third generation beekeepers. Leach has been a draftsman, engineer and so much more. When the market crashed his successful cabinetry business fell with it and he was looking for something new.

Michael had always learned a lot from oral history and getting into hives so he started selling bee equipment in 2009 and then in 2013 moved over to honey production as Bee Friends Farm.

Brentley Stead is the Marketing Director for Bee Friends Farm, though she says, Bee Friends Farm Wrangler is more accurate. She got her start with the company after college and says that they run the company full time and it’s a lot more time consuming than folks think!

“Between maintaining our retail stores (you can find a map of our local retailers here), bottling honey, taking care of bees, selling honey at events and doing educational events there’s a lot to get done,” she says. “We have about 400 hives right now and we are looking to expand to 700 by the fall!”

They are currently located right off of I10 and Lane Ave but are migratory beekeepers which means they move the bees depending on what blooms are in season.

What has been the hardest part about working with family, as a family run business?

Having a family run business means we can focus on what needs to be done because we all chip in for tasks that must be accomplished for the business to move forward. That might mean test tasting products, late nights moving bees, cleaning toilets, running around making deliveries the possibilities are endless and it isn’t always glamorous. Because we are all in this together, we get it done together. 

Christie, Michael’s wife, and their three children are always pitching in. At markets, with creative projects and more they are always willing to help! Christie is also the mastermind behind why our Creamed Honey is so delicious. She plays a big role in our fundraising programs for schools as well. 

Can people visit the farm?

We wish we could say yes to this request and we are working on it! For now, we have a couple of great opportunities: You can come visit us the first Saturday of every month when we host a bee mentoring workshop with the Jacksonville Beekeepers Association which is a very cool way to get some hands-on education and meet fellow beekeepers.

We also host a Honey Tasting Workshop with Congaree and Penn practically every month. You can find info on both opportunities on our website – and if we start to open up the farm social media would know first! We are also excited to announce our upcoming Honey Bee Festival on August 17th. Fans can find more info on the event here: https://beefriendsfarm.com/pages/honey-bee-festival


What is your favorite thing to do around Jacksonville?

We have some great outdoor opportunities in Jacksonville like the Arboretum, farm visits at Congaree and Penn, taking a book to Memorial Park, hanging beachside, biking trails and more. 

When your family comes to town, what is something you guys always have to do while they are in town?

There are so many great markets around town and pop-up events picking one of those is a great way to spend a day! 

What’s your favorite bee related movie?

We are loving the bee/honey segment in the four-part series Rotton which you can find on Netflix. It’s very accurate – know your beekeeper! 

What’s your current obsession? 

Craft beverages are super fun right and we’ve been experimenting with other local businesses in town! For example, Wicked Barley specializes in meads and they have been using different types of our honey to make some magic happen, or Hive Alive who specializes in Jun Kombucha which uses honey instead of sugar. Cocktails are all the rage too (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and working with Volstead downtown and Wildcrafters in Riverside – an upcoming alcohol-free bar –  is always exciting for us. 

Where do you see Bee Friends in 5 years?

We hope to still be producing the best quality honey in North Florida! We are also currently working towards expanding into beekeeping equipment and selling bees again. There’s up and coming beekeeping community and we want to help make sure they get quality supplies and bees. Maybe get into more backyard beekeeper education – stay tuned! 

My daughter’s favorite lemon creamed honey!

Favorite dessert?

Honey!! In all seriousness, there is a local ice cream maker in Springfield, Thomas Reed Creamery, who makes small batches for his neighbors and he makes some honey-based icecreams that are divine! 

We also specialize in Cream Honey which is a crystallized version of our Jacksonville Wildflower and then we add an infusion of spices or extracts. That crystallization is what gives it that thick, rich texture. There is no added sugar or dairy. My favorite is Mexican Vanilla it is rich and smooth and the vanilla almost mellows out the sweetness.

Favorite restaurant?

Oh, we love so many, but are pretty partial to spots like Bread and Board, Vagabond Coffee, Ugly Cupcake, and Vitality Bowls. 

Education is very important to Bee Friends and they try to do a lot of outreach in schools and troops/kids club (which they do not charge for).

We bring our observation hive and bee suit and the kids can’t get enough! We offer fundraising programs for those schools as well – it makes a nice change of pace from wrapping paper and cheesecakes. 

We also do special events and people can book our Tasting Experience for weddings, corporate events, parties etc. 

What if I want to be a beekeeper or want more info?

For those looking to become beekeepers, interested in beekeeping we recommend coming out to our upcoming event on August 17th the Bee Friends Farm Honey Bee Festival. All of the local Beekeeping Clubs will be in attendance and available to answer your questions! 

The Jacksonville Beekeepers Association is an amazing organization and we work closely with them. Any time anyone is interested in learning more about beekeeping or our fabulous community the Jacksonville Beekeepers Association is a fabulous year around resource. Find more from them at JaxBees.com


Instagram: @beefriendsfarm

Facebook: Bee Friends Farm 

Website: www.beefriendsfarm.com


Christy Whitehead is a corporate and product photographer located in Jacksonville, Florida. She photographs headshots and products for many types of companies. She often features local companies and products on her blog that she thinks other people might find interesting as well!

Win a Free T-Shirt from Cracked Egg Design!

We’re cosponsoring a contest with Cracked Egg Design and you need to go enter NOW to win a Free T-shirt of your choice.

Cracked Egg features designs mostly aimed at the photography and wedding industry (More industries coming, like realtors, police and fire and there are a few select massage shirts as well). BUT, if you dig a little deeper there are a ton of fun designs for moms, people who love to camp, those of us that keep chickens and more!


So, I wanted to share with you some of my favorite shirts and items.

First, you’ve got to check out the leggings, dresses and bathing suit section.

I mean how cute are these camera “don’t be negative” leggings. Even if you aren’t a photographer, we all take a zillion pictures, and these are cute! PLUS, some of them have POCKETS! Plus a lot of the designs have a matching T-shirt to go with them. Which I love.

There are also dresses and bathing suits in some of the patterns, perfect for a gift for a photographer you know (or someone else in the industry, as there are hairstylist bathing suits and more!).


We recently bought a popup camper and my kids LOVE it. So the camping section is a must for us.

Happy Glamper is a popular design right now.

Here’s a pop up version of the Happy Glamper design. Kind of hard to find pop up shirts!



The “Most Expensive Day Ever” is pretty funny, at least we’re Florida residents so we get a discount!

The Manage Chaos shirt, that feels perfect for me as a photographer, but I’m sure also all of us as a mom!



Featured Vendor: Greenlight Graphics Headshots and Product Photography

Crystal and Zach Gay own, Greenlight Graphics a veteran owned and operated family run company that offers laser engraving and vinyl services. We used them for our window signage and were impressed with their keen interest in making sure that the colors matched correctly. They showed up with samples for us to flip through.

When our home was flooded in the hurricane, they offered not to charge us for the vinyl, but I wouldn’t let them do that, but I loved their generous and caring heart!

They have since gone on to work with several businesses I know and so I wanted to feature them on my blog in case anyone else in the North Florida/Jacksonville area needed something as well. However, I do think they’ll ship.

I had to open with the photos of their daughter holding the engraved notebook. She is SUPER cute and she def. needs to do some modeling, look at those curls and that smile!

But Rielle, isn’t only the cutest one of the team (sorry guys!, she also really does help!

“She is the absolute best.” says Crystal. ” She loves helping with the company. She is our door greeter at pickup. During cut prep, she unboxes and sorts lids. She also likes to help us pack everything back up for the customer.

The three of us make a great team and we love teaching her that she can create her own business and be the boss in her life, if that is what she wants one day.”

I used green with many of their photos because their branding has green in it.

How did you guys get started?

What drew you to vinyl and custom products?

After we had Rielle, I wanted to be there for her always and become a stay at home mom so we started brainstorming ideas for extra income to make that transition easier.

We began having casual conversation about logos/marketing and the constant need for it, along with the growing trend of personalized gifts. We thought it would be really neat to work with other businesses while building one of our own. I had a background in customer service along with the love for working with others and Zach is an artist and great with designs so we gradually started putting it all together and just took a leap of faith and invested in the equipment.

(These are for the fabulous Remi Realty, here in Jacksonville.)

What all products do you make?

We personalize, in individual and bulk, RTIC and Maars drinkware, wood products such as cutting boards, coasters, photo on wood canvas, etc. and leatherette gifts such as flask boxes, koozies, wallets, mouse pads, portfolios, bottle openers, business card holders etc. We also do vinyl for storefronts, wall art, or decals.

How did you come up with the name of your business?

Zach created the name and logo. We literally just said names aloud until something clicked. We wanted something simple, but clear and catchy.

And now for some fun stuff:

What is your favorite thing to do around Jacksonville?

We spend most of our free time and some body of water. We both grew up on the Suwannee River and just thoroughly enjoy fresh air, sand, and sunshine.

When your family comes to town, what is something you guys always have to do?

We live in Yulee, so we always take family onto Amelia Island for great food, shops, and beaches. We also enjoy Dave and Busters or other places in Jax that are kids oriented.

What’s your favorite song?

We are music lovers. That is definitely something we use to connect with each other and to escape with. Some of our fav. bands are JJ Grey and Mofro, Gaslight Anthem, and Hours Eastly.

What is your favorite movie?

Busy days leave little time for movies and most tv time is filled with Disney films. And we have to admit, we love them just as much as Rielle does!

What’s something you can’t live without (besides your loved ones)?


They were sweet enough to bring me this reusable cup when they came in. What surprised me was most of these cups I see for sale online by vinyl companies scare me, because vinyl would come off easy. But Greenlight Graphics actually ETCHES the logo into the cup, making it super durable!

Check them out:

Facebook:    www.facebook.com/greenlightgraphics
Website:   www.greenlightgraphics.net

Featured Vendor: Tanisha Campbell of Shades, Colors & Coils

I met Tanisha recently when she inquired about some product photography. When she came in, I immediately liked her. Not only was she young, smart, super sweet and driven, but she impressed me with what she was doing with her business.

She’s only been in business for 11 months, but her website looks professional and she was seeking out professional photographers to make sure her products looked right for her website. She was def. on the right track!

Tanisha is only 25, and not only is this her first business venture, but she’s also an active member of the military. I had to know more!

Where can people buy your products at?

Online (www.shadescolorscoils.com). Etsy is coming soon!

How did you get your start?

It actually all started on a cruise ship. I was on a cruise with my best friend and I wasn’t have the “perfect” hair day on the cruise due to the products that I was using on my hair. So the gears started turning and I decided to start thinking about the hair products I needed and then I started thinking of names for the products. Once the cruise was over and I got back to Jacksonville I went to a health store called “Grass Roots” and I began to purchase ingredients to mix to start making shampoo! And that’s how it all began.

My brand Shades, Colors, & Coils, LLC was built off diversity and individuality. I don’t want my brand to be “JUST” portrayed as a hair care line. I want everyone to recognize that this brand is based off confidence, diversity, and individuality from all walks of life! Whether you have a lot of hair or a little bit of hair or whether you’re a man or woman this brand is here for you! 

How did you come up with the name of your business?

I wanted a name that would help reflect people’s diversity and individuality. I wanted a name that everyone could be apart of. My cousin Kymeshia also played a big part with helping with the name and tying everything together. Shades- (Means to be comfortable with the color of your skin no matter how light you are or how dark you are! Be comfortable and confident in your skin! Colors- (No matter what color, race religion, or gender you are you will always be represented within this brand) Coils- (Everyone has unique hair and sometimes straight hair is always seen as the norm but no matter how curly, coily, or straight your hair is these products will benefit you!)

What product of yours can you not live without?

Hydrating Conditioning Cream (Deep Conditioner)

How do you come up with the scents?

I always loved tropical and fruity scents. So I always aim for scents with peach & mango in them (My favorite fruits) and I like soft scents like vanilla. I like these types of scents because they are not over bearing.

Do you think you’ll have a storefront soon?

Not sure about soon but that is definitely my goal in the future!

Where do you see your business in 5 or 10 years?

I see my business thriving based off the individuality and diversity my business has to offer! My brand is for all walks of life no mater what color, race, religion, or gender you are! My plan is to have my products in stores for all people to be able to purchase! I also plan on having a storefront that allows you to make your own hair products that cater to your individual needs!

(I can’t remember what happened to get her laughing, but I loved the images!)

Now, some fun questions:

What is your favorite thing to do around Jacksonville?

The beach Duhhh (:

When your family comes to town, what is something you guys always have to do while they are in town?

Spend quality family time together! Game night, cook out, shopping, and making a trip to a theme park!

What’s your favorite movie?

Menace II Society

What’s your favorite song?

Bob Marley – Is this love

What’s your favorite food?

Brown rice! Peaches and Mangos!

Favorite dessert?

Molten lava chocolate cake

Favorite restaurant?

Burger Fi (I love the veggie burgers)

Favorite place to hang out in Jacksonville?

(Downtown Jacksonville) I love the scenery, food places, and the different scenery!

What’s your current obsession?

I love to travel and see the world! I’m obsessed with seeing the world and meeting people I have never met before to learn different cultures and customs!