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Conversations with Jay Williams

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jay Williams.

Hi Jay, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers?
We started in 2008 when my wife read an article about how honeybees were in trouble. I wanted to know more. Why were they in trouble and why was everyone so afraid of bees? We started with two colonies and within a month wanted 100. Beekeeping became an obsession as the bees quickly taught me more about life than honey.

The business has evolved from just making honey to now more about teaching and inspiring as many new beekeepers as possible. It’s not about the honey, it’s about the bees. We are actively trying to bring back the populations across middle Tennessee through workshops, in-person and digital schools, events, and social media. We started with around 50 followers and have grown to around 46K. I think what has attracted people to our message is that we try to be humorous, informative, and humble all at the same time.

I also went to film school and worked in the industry for a long time before landing a job as a beekeeper and firefighter. Using my film skills has helped me better tell a story and deliver the information in a clearer way than most people on the internet.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It has not always been smooth. Bees are very fragile. We’ve had a lot of bees die along the way as we honed our system. Bees are very fragile, especially when you are trying to raise them in a healthy manner. But our failures have been the motivation behind our beekeeping schools. Learn from my failures so you don’t have to make the same mistakes.

Also when we started out we didn’t have any kids. Now we have three! Learning to juggle 4 million girls (bees) and three of our own boys has not been easy but all well worth it.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
When I’m not chasing around swarms of bees I’m riding around on a fire engine working as a Lieutenant. I enjoy helping people and trying to make a difference. Beekeeping is a natural extension of this. Instead of helping a human in trouble, on my off days, I get to help honeybees that are in trouble. I am also used to working in chaotic situations that can be considered stressful. This helps when you have millions of venomous insects flying around your head and you have to concentrate to complete the job. Now if I could only choose a profession that didn’t require me to sweat so much.

What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned along your journey?
The bees have taught me many lessons about myself, my family, my job, and my country. We all need to work to be part of the greater good. In a beehive, it is not about the individual bee. It is about the superorganism that is the beehive. Bees are one of the hardest-working beings in this world. They literally work till their wings fall off. They don’t work so hard for themselves, they work for the overall survival of the hive. I think that’s a good lesson for us all. Stop worrying so much about yourself and start working more for your community.

I’ve also learned that you need to be a better listener than a speaker. Bees have to listen to each other and learn about the latest nectar source, all in the midst of a massive amount of signals being sent (in the dark). I can talk more about this behavior on the phone-

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Image Credits
Andrea Farmer Photography and Liza Hippler photography.

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