Sara Bedillion Owns a Local Bee Farm in Western Pennsylvania

When you think of Western Pennsylvania, the first thing that comes to mind may not be bee farming, but the region’s floral landscape is actually a thriving haven for these pollinators. Sara and Mark Bedillion of Bedillion Honey Farm have taken advantage of this environment, carefully forging a honey paradise in Hickory, PA. Here, the two have made a source for local, real, pure, raw honey in special varieties. 

This buzzing local bee farm project for Sara and Mark started with a simple love for all things farming. Both of them had grown up farming, so expanding their skill set to the lovely world of honey was natural.

“Getting bees was just another piece of the puzzle 20 years ago,” says Sara. “It just happened to be what Mark really developed a passion and talent for. They’re totally woven into our family’s life now. We like to say, ‘We keep the bees, and the bees keep us.’”

From Honey to Family

Their extended bee family provides a task year round, not just in the sunny summer months as most would assume. And those special honey varieties they provide? They actually depend on the changing of the seasons and the floral sources available. 

“Our local area is pretty amazing when it comes to how the floral sources affect the flavor of the honey,” says Sara. “In the fall, goldenrod flowers can produce a golden honey with hints of butterscotch, while knotweed flowers can produce a beautiful purplish black honey that has notes of roasted sweet potato. In the spring, all the blooming trees, shrubs, and flowers can give a peach or vanilla flavor then summer trees like basswoods impart a citrus or mint note, depending on the year.”

Helping the Environment Through Bees

While the honey bees give Sara and Mark bottles full of tasty, golden liquid, but, they gift the environment something too. These pollinators are essential to creating a flowering landscape, helping sustain the green and bright ecosystem we cherish. They’ve also given the couple a little insight into the cycle of the food chain. 

“Something wonderful I’ve noticed here at our home farm since we started keeping bees is how much more prolific the flowering plants and trees seem to be,” says Sara. “It has led to an ever increasing population of other pollinators and insects, plus an amazing variety of birds. Many of these insects and birds are actually feeding on some of the bees from our hives like praying mantis, dragonflies, cedar waxwings, and Eastern Phoebes, just to name a few.”

Even though there are these moments of beauty, there are difficulties that come with owning a local bee farm in Western Pennsylvania as well. While pollinators can help revive a drying landscape, they still need an environment with plenty of space and resources.

“Some of the challenges we face are finding good apiary locations with good access and plentiful forage for the bees,” explains Sara. “Our bees collect from flowering trees, shrubs and wildflowers here in our area, so access to lots of acreage of undeveloped spaces is key.”

A Lot to Buzz About

Nevertheless, the two have truly fallen in love with the art of beekeeping. It’s something they even help others get into with their store being a great asset to anyone interested in bees or beekeeping on their own. 

“We also raise honey bee colonies for sale and have an entire inventory of beekeeping supplies available in our on-farm shop,” says Sara. “Every year we help new beekeepers get started with their own hives. Something I always tell people about their new hobby is that it’s never boring! The honeybees are endlessly fascinating, and it’s so gratifying to work with them.”

Even if you aren’t quite ready to jump into beekeeping yourself, there is plenty you can do at home to help the pollinators right in your own backyard. Plus, buying a bottle of honey from a local provider is a pretty great way of supporting pollinators too.

“I’d love to encourage everyone who is able to, to grow a little less lawn and more flowers and trees instead,” says Sara. “The honeybees, pollinators, insects, birds, local animals, and even humans will all benefit from it.”

Looking to grab some raw honey of your own? Visit these local bee farms for all your sweet needs.

Bumbleberry Farms, Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Honey, Squirrel Hill

Bedillion Honey Farm, Hickory

Hannah’s Honey, Fox Chapel

Couldn’t BEE Better Honey, Robinson Township

Fiesta Family Farms, Plum

Story by Kylie Thomas / Photography Courtesy of Bedillion Honey Farm

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