By REBECCA HAZEN
Derick Forester, of Forester Farms and Apiary, has opened a store in Rossville.
The store, which Forester calls a “homestead store” carries beekeeping supplies, poultry supplies, plants, seeds, goat milk soap, his own honey, aprons, and more. The store is located at 912 LaFayette Road.
“The main thing we do is beekeeping supplies. I concentrate on education and supplies,” Forester said.
He holds classes at the store on the basics of beekeeping. There are two sessions for one group. A few more classes will be held throughout the spring. After that time, there will be more advanced courses.
Forester says that spring time is the best time to get started with beekeeping.
“April and May is about the latest time,” Forester said. “
If someone wants to start beekeeping, Forester says first and foremost they need bees, and they need a box to put them in.
“I have a couple of different starter kits,” Forester said. “We will also sell bees by April 15.”
Forester is a third generation beekeeper from Dade County. His grandfather and his uncle were also involved in beekeeping.
“My uncle passed away young, and my granddaddy passed away in 2001, so I got away from it for a little while. I had the opportunity to get back into it with the Tennessee Valley Beekeepers Association. I took a course to refresh my memory,” Forester said.
Forester builds his own beekeeping equipment, because he enjoys woodworking.
“Well, when I did that, a lot of people wanted me to make equipment for them,” Forester said. “That got to be so busy that I couldn’t keep up. I started looking for suppliers. That started the ball running. That was probably in 2010. It has gradually grown.”
Forester started the business in his grandfather’s house in Rising Fawn, what he now calls the “honey house.” He does the honey extracting there, and he has a retail store there too.
“I consider that my number one store and this is my number two store,” Forester said.
Ironically enough, Forester never planned to open a second location, but business is proving to be good.
Forester’s sister was the one to suggest opening a store in the area. Originally, Forester said that he wasn’t interested.
Then a beekeeper friend who lives in the Rossville area started encouraging Forester to open a store there as well.
The plan started to take shape, even though Forester admits he was still unwilling.
He made a low offer on the building, and said to himself that he would go through with it if the process went smoothly.
“It was smooth sailing, and here we are” Forester said. “My customer base has been mostly new customers, with a few of my older customers tricking in. It has been great.”
Forester continued, “My main thing has always been to educate people about bees because they are so important. Seventy percent of our food is pollinated by bees. Without our bees, we wouldn’t have a good food source at all.”
The store is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit foresterfarmsandapiary.com or call (423) 413-5370.