Forester Farms and Apiary

Derick Forester poses for a photo in the Forester Farms workshop. The Forester family has been in the beekeeping business since the 1950s.

Not everyone can say they live out a legacy. However, Derick Forester is one of those lucky few.

His family has lived on the same plot of land in Rising Fawn, Ga. since the mid 1800s. Most of the men in his family commuted to Chattanooga for work, but his living legacy begins with bees.

In the 1950s Forester’s Uncle Doug and his grandfather began working with bees for a little extra income, with some help from young Forester of course.

According to Forester, his Uncle Doug said honey was “liquid gold,” and they had a few weeks off at the beginning of the summer, just in time to extract the honey.

At 16 years old when his uncle passed away, Forester stepped away from bees for a while, and he took up a career in law enforcement. Eventually though, Forester brought it upon himself to learn all he could to carry on the legacy of Forester Farms and Apiary, while still maintaining his job in law enforcement, once his grandfather got too old to take care of them. 

“When I got back into them,” began Forester,” I didn’t realize how different it was from when we were keeping them [before]. Since the ‘80s came pest, mites and hive beetles. We didn’t have any of that when we were doing bees.”

Forester took one class to learn more about bees in Chattanooga, and soon afterwards, he began assistant teaching classes to help educate more people about bees.

As well as law enforcement and tending to his bees, Forester also finds the time to work with four bee chapters of the Bee Keepers Association. He now teaches classes, as well as makes and sells merchandise to help other beekeepers excel.

For Forester, his primary reason for what he does is to preserve bees and educate people about them.

Most people do not care for bees or think of them as a necessity to ecosystems. However, if bees were to go extinct, within about four years all food sources would be close to gone.

“Seventy percent of our food is pollinated,” said Forester. “I can’t say we would be extinct, but our food source would be bad.”

Without bees, honey would be gone, which can be used for much more than cooking. For instance, allergy relief, if the honey is local, arthritis remedies, ease digestive problems, etc.

Forester said that one of the biggest misconceptions about bees is how aggressive they are and will attack for no reason. In fact, he said they will not sting you unless provoked; however, they are attracted to scents such as perfumes and deodorants.

“I’ve been down in them with my bare hands, and [I] never get stung,” said Forester.

With these misconceptions, many people forget all the good bees do for the environment, and they insist on harming them due to lack of knowledge of the species.

Forester, though, does all he can to promote bee positivity and keep his legacy alive. He hopes one day one of his relatives will carry on the tradition, but as for now, he plans to keep selling honey and educating others on the importance of beekeeping.