Westport’s Savannah Bee Company set to close in December

WESTPORT — Savannah Bee Company is closing down in December after more than four years in Bedford Square.

The niche experiential store has been in Westport since 2017, when the Georgia-based company opened its first and only Connecticut location.

Julie Cook, Westport store manager, said since joining the Westport community the company has been successful in teaching residents about the importance of bees and pollinators in general. “It has been a really great experience,” Cook said. “Our customers have loved it.”

Founder Ted Dennard built the Savannah Bee Company out of his interest in bees which came about when, as a child, his parents allowed a man named Roy Hightower to put bees on their 100-acre Georgia property.

That interest grew even after Hightower passed away. Dennard began keeping bees himself and even took care of the bees on his landlord’s property when he went to college. After spending two years in the Peace Corps in Jamaica where he grew his knowledge of beekeeping, he returned to Georgia.

The business began when his roommate’s girlfriend and now wife, opened a furniture shop in Savannah and Dennard sold some of his honey there.

Not long after, people started offering to sell the honey in their stores. After three years, stores in Napa Valley and Los Angeles started carrying the products. In 2002, Dennard officially started the company and in 2008, opened the first retail store in downtown Savannah.

The business has since grown to over 100 employees and 15 locations with retail stores in Tennessee, Georgia, Arizona, South Carolina, Florida, Colorado and Connecticut, the only location above the Mason-Dixon line.

Cook said since the store has been in town “so much has been done.”

The company has been able to educate as well as partner with several local businesses. The Westport location has partnered with locals farms, the Wakeman Town Farm, the sustainability center, the local land trust and the Westport Garden Club.

The company has also developed relationships with local artists and vendors as well as created partnerships with local restaurants where some of the restaurants actually use the honey products from the Savannah Bee Company in their recipes.

Some of the local restaurants include the Spotted Horse Tavern, Amis Trattoria and the Cottage in Westport.

Cook said all of theses efforts led to Westport naming 2019 the year of the pollinator.

“Our store is all about outreach,” Cook said. “Everything that we do really focuses on getting people to be better stewards of the planet.”

Cook said to learn how to treat each other better and to learn how to treat mother nature better, there is “no better way” than to watch and learn from bees.

“They are the only organisms other than humans that are altruistic,” Cook said. “They don’t even get to eat the honey that they make in their lifetime, it’s for the next generation.”

Cook said since the Savannah Bee Company was welcomed to Connecticut, the Westport community has been “great.”

“We have really embraced the whole community,” Cook said.