Our name, Asheville Bee Charmer, was inspired by a line in the novel (and movie) Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe by Fannie Flagg. The fictional book and film tell the story of the relationship between two women, Idgie Threadgoode and Ruth Jamison, in Whistle Stop, Alabama in the 1920s and ’30s.
In one of our favorite scenes, Idgie reaches her bare hand into a swarm of wild bees that have built a hive in an old oak tree. She plucks out a piece of honeycomb and carries it to Ruth to share with her as part of their picnic lunch.
Ruth looks at the dripping comb and says, “You’re just a bee charmer, Idgie Threadgoode. That’s what you are, a bee charmer.”
When Queen Bees Jillian and Kim decided to open a honey shop after becoming beekeepers themselves, no other name would do than Asheville Bee Charmer.
The BEEginnings: Meet Our Queens
Kim and Jillian met in Chicago, Illinois. Kim was a commodity trader, and they were both wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of big city life. They had yet to discover their passion for honey bees that would take them from the urban landscape of Chicago to a quirky mountain town in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.
Jillian and Kim visited Asheville for a long weekend on the recommendation of a friend, not knowing they would find their forever home in the eccentric little mountain metropolis. It was love at first visit, and after a few more weekend vacations they were sold on leaving the fast pace and cold temperatures of Chicago behind. In exchange, they found a city with a slower pace, warm smiles, and community-minded folks just like them.
Years before the move down south Jillian and Kim changed their diets, replacing white refined sugar in their recipes with raw honey instead. This passion for honey in the kitchen blossomed into an interest in bees and pollinators in general. Jillian subsequently took several classes and volunteered at the Garfield Conservatory in Chicago for beekeeping.
In 2014, The Bee Charmer opened its doors for the first time in downtown Asheville. Born out of a passion for honey, a curiosity for bees, a love of cooking, and a yearning for connection to community, the shop has become a staple of the downtown scene.
Asheville Bee Charmer Today
Asheville Bee Charmer sells between 25-35 types of honey depending on the time of year and availability. Sourwood honey is Jillian and Kim’s forever favorite, partly due to the incredible taste, but also for its connection to the local Appalachian mountains.
After five years in business at their first location, Jillian and Kim expanded and opened a second downtown Asheville storefront in September 2019. You can experience different types of honey from all over the world at their unique honey tasting bar. Educated bee-ristas are available to provide honey samples and educate visitors about each extraordinary honey.