Ravens is the owner of Appalachian Bee Farm in Ocoee, where she manufacturers and sells her own honey along with beeswax skin care products that are all natural.
“I offer alternative products from the hive,” stated Ravens. “All of my products contain something beneficial from the bees.”
Ravens said she got into the beekeeper business by accident when she purchased a home from a man who raised bees and sold honey for 50 years. She started reading about honey bees and immediately, she was hooked; she’s been a beekeeper ever since.
“I find bees so interesting,” stated Ravens. “They are social insects, the minute they hatch, they have duties to do. They do whatever it takes to get the job done!”
It is her fascination of honeybees that has kept Ravens interested in this field for 20 years.
In an effort to manufacture skin-care products that are beneficial to our bodies, all of her handcrafted soaps and skin care products contain nutrient rich ingredients from the hive such as beeswax, honey and propolis. Ravens even uses recycled beehive supers as soap molds to make her handcrafted soaps.
She is currently working on a new propolis line of skincare products where she uses propolis in her products. According to Ravens, propolis, (pronounced pr_-pa-lis) also known as Russian penicillin, is something the bees make that many people don’t even know about.
Bees make propolis from the resins of plants and trees. She adds her enzymes along with beeswax and they use this is to line all of the cells of the honeycomb where the queen lays eggs. This makes it a hospital clean environment for the egg to hatch and that larva to grow to a bee.
“Most of my market is in the health and nutrition industry, and people that are very health conscious know about its benefits. It is a valuable product from the bee. Bees have been around for thousands of years; pollen, honey, and propolis have been found in pyramids from 5,000 years ago. World War I and II soldiers used propolis to pack wounds to prevent infection before the advent of antibiotics.”
Ravens said she owes much of her success to the Small Business Development Center at Cleveland State Community College.
“When Brenda Sheehy took over as the director, my name was still in the system from a previous visit, and she sent out an email that mentioned all of the opportunities the center had to offer that were free, so I thought I’d check it out. I have to say, from that day until now, I have received nothing but constant, professional, concrete business advice.”
Since meeting Sheehy, Ravens said she has gone to workshops, computer classes and has applied and received funding from the SBA. She has been exposed to many areas of business that she would have not been exposed to if it were not for the SBDC.
“I had been in business for 10 years, but did not have a business plan. Brenda helped me develop one, and I would definitely recommend that to anyone before they even attempt to open a business. Brenda helped provide steps on how to get from point A to point B-something that nobody had ever given me. Talking to someone who has done it before is the key. You get that with Brenda! She is definitely the kind of person that gets things done!”
Sheehy, director of the Small Business Development Center, said, “Ms. Ravens is a perfect example of an entrepreneur who grew her business out of the passion and knowledge she had as a beekeeper and the resulting development of her product. I was fortunate to meet Ms. Ravens when she came to the TSBDC seeking assistance to take
“Working with Ms. Ravens and helping her achieve this goal is the reason SBDC counselors do what they do. I am sure that in the near future Appalachian Bee Farm will gain the national and international recognition it so deserves/”
“I need to stop thinking of myself as a beekeeper and start thinking of myself as an entrepreneur-that’s the support that I’m looking for and hope to receive at the SBDC,” Ravens said. Ravens is currently working on a rebranding campaign, new product packaging and a website.
While most people cringe at the thought of a single bee sting, Ravens rarely wears a bee suit because of the heat.
“I’d rather stay cool,” stated Ravens. “On a hot day when it is 90 degrees, it is much hotter in that suit.
“I can handle a few stings here and there. Bees don’t always sting. They only sting if they are threatened. Many days, I don’t get any stings. Believe me, there are worse things in life than a bee sting.”
Ravens’ products are available in health and nutrition locations in Southeast Tennessee.
For more information on Appalachian Bee Farm, contact Diane Ravens at (423) 338-1149 or email: email@example.com.
For more information about the SBDC, visit the website at www.tsbdc.org or call (423) 478-6249.