It’s early morning, quiet. No one is awake and the sun is barely up. Tami Enright walks across the wet grass, as usual, hearing vibrating sounds. It’s a familiar, comforting hum that gets louder as she gets closer: the buzz of thousands of honeybees.
“I’m trying to keep it a secret,” she says. “But I have the best job in the world.”
Tami is in the middle of seven installations in one week. She’s the only employee of The Bee Cause Project, a non-profit installing observation hives in schools to educate kids on the importance of honeybees in our environment. Each weighing around eighty pounds, the hives are heavy and hang on the wall. But Tami never has a shortage of friends willing to help.
And it’s not just friends. Savannah Bee Company is The Bee Cause’s corporate sponsor and biggest champion. They’ve received several local grants from foundations and community members, including Whole Kids Foundation’s recent $12,000 grant, a contribution which will take TBC closer to their goal of having hives in 1,000 schools across the country.
And it’s not just schools. TBC has honeybees in local businesses like Fuzzco, Whole Foods and, coming soon, 1600 Meeting and Mixson. They’re opening their first bee sanctuaries at Middleton Place and Birds of Prey in Awendaw. They have installations in South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and soon New York. TBC’s rapid growth is due partly to its Pay It Forward model, which asks that organizations who receive bee donations pass it on in some way to another. The other part is that bees happen to be really cool.
Tami didn’t plan on being a beekeeper when she grew up. She was a realtor, then a teacher, now a mother of four. She went to a bee course to improve her gardening. Now, she’s carrying around a 5,000-page text book for her Master Beekeeper (it’s a real thing) exam next week. As a kid, Tami didn’t grow up with a lot. She was the first in her family to go to college and she paid for it herself.
“I’ve never told anybody that,” she says. “I wanted to prove I could make it. I burned out in all my other jobs. I was really searching for that inner Zen. I’ve found the secret to success. And I’ve found it with the bees.”
Words by: Jessica Kenny
Photography by: Olivia Rae James