Local Spotlight—Weeks Honey Farm
By Michele Hatton
If you listen to beekeeper Ray Crosby, even briefly, you hear an intelligent mind that has compiled a wealth of information on bees, honey production and sustainability. “I have to be a scientist and a doctor both,” claims Ray in reference to keeping bees. The quality of his honey says it all—full stop.
Weeks Honey Farm, run by Crosby and his family, sits among red clay farmlands, just outside Moultrie, Georgia. The farm began 52 years ago with farmer F.G. Weeks (Crosby’s grandfather) growing crops for his U-pick farm, then taking closer note of the winged insects pollinating his crops, “He became fascinated with the bees,” says daughter, Sharon Weeks Crosby (Ray Crosby’s mom). After an initial purchase of two hives, his business bloomed. “It brought in twice as much as his crops, plus it was in high demand,” claims Crosby. By 1985, F.G. Weeks owned 800 hives and crop farming was a relic of the past.
Today, Crosby’s own hives spread throughout a five-county range. His bees pollinate and collect nectar from cucumber, squash, cantaloupe, watermelon and other southern blossoms, gathering the nutrients they need to sustain themselves and their brood. Committed to good bee nutrition, Crosby ensures his bees, “follow the bloom.” “We avoid GMO crops or crops with heavy pesticides,” says Crosby. “At no time do we do anything that is going to hurt the bees.” The farms surrounding his bee-yards are routinely inspected to ensure against heavy pesticide use and other harmful practices.
Weeks Farm also supports a cadre of 45 other small-sized beekeepers who bring him their own honey to bottle. Although Crosby has confidence in all of the beekeepers that he knows on a personal basis, their honey must meet his standards of excellence, every single time. “We’ve done everything anybody could do to protect the quality of our honey.”
The family has been in business now for four generations with one thread running reliably through their operations: commitment to quality. Crosby’s mother, wife and four of their six children (when available) run the place. When Crosby compares his methods to standard practices he keeps returning to issue of ethics. Doing every aspect of business, the absolute right way, is the only way this family of faithful Christians knows. Loyalty to family, their association of beekeepers, the environment, and old-fashioned values is what makes this farm buzz.
Crosby routinely turns down interested buyers, preferring to remain small. “I couldn’t keep control of the quality,” say Crosby when asked about expanding the business. (The family still bottles and labels by hand.) Whole Foods actually approached him for his product, not the other way around (Whole Foods currently carries their honey.) “All of our customers are word of mouth,” says Crosby. In the last five months, Weeks Honey Farm has experienced a great increase in sales and isn’t doing anything to get it. When asked why, Crosby simply replied, “People are looking for good quality.”
Weeks Honey Farm bottles seven varieties of honey including pure, raw, unfiltered clover, buckwheat, gallberry, wildflower, orange blossom, tupelo and sage. They also have available a cinnamon honey spread, honey stixs, beeswax candles and gift baskets. New Leaf Market Co-op now carries their honey.
For more information about Weeks Honey Farm, visit http://www.weekshoneyfarm.com.
“Listen to nature. The bees will tell you what they need.”
Sharon Weeks Crosby