Hive of the Rising Sun: Beekeeping in Northern Alabama |

Hive of the Rising Sun is an apiary operated by Colby and Justin Ruf in Harvest, AL. They manage more than 70 bee colonies in south-central Tennessee and north-central Alabama. They are often found selling their wares in the markets of Athens and County Limestone.

Colby Ruf hails from southeast Texas, while Justin Ruf, an American serviceman, hails from Athens. The couple started beekeeping in 2016 and have since grown and expanded their apiary and their products and services offered.

The News Courier spoke with Colby Ruf about her and her husband’s apiary business.

“We started beekeeping in 2016 with our mentor who lives in Scottsboro. His name is Ray Latham. So let’s see, we started in 2016 and then we went on our own in 2017,” Ruf said.

“We went alone with two packs that we bought, and then we also caught a swarm from a friend of ours in Scottsboro. And these three hives that we turned into nine at the end of the summer. So we’re went in the winter with nine colonies, and we’ve been going there ever since,” she said.

Ruf made the Hive of the Rising Sun apiary operational while Justin Ruf was deployed overseas with the military.

“I actually started us because my husband was deployed to Afghanistan. So he wasn’t there when I started our apiary, but he had built all of our equipment out of wood we bought from a friend.”

Ruf’s apiary journey began when Justin Ruf started reading beekeeping books.

“Justin picked up a book one day, the ‘ABCs and Xs, Ys and Zs of Beekeeping’ and also the ‘Beekeepers’ Bible.’ He took those two books and started studying and got really interested in it and started talking to me a little bit more about it, and he really wanted to do it, so then we connected and started studying “, Ruf said.

Ruf added that they were attending the Young Harris Institute at the University of Georgia, which offers a beekeeping program.

“They have a whole department of entomology that has a school that you can get a degree in beekeeping from,” she said. “So we actually follow their curriculum and still study today in regards to beekeeping, so that was sort of our schooling. It was self-study. And, of course, we have met our mentor who had been a beekeeper for, damn it, over 50 years – his whole life. His grandfather and his father before him were beekeepers, you know, so he’s been doing it for generations, but he sort of took us under his wing for a year.

Services and products offered

The Rufs offer many apiary services, including mentoring, advising, and hive removal.

“We offer you a year of mentoring where I can come to you or you come to me, whichever is best for you. In your second year, I am a mentor but no longer mentor you, so you can contact me for advice or if there is something you really don’t understand. As a counselor I charge for these services but it depends on the situation. So I don’t have, like, any fee that I can throw out there,” Ruf said.

The team will visit your property and remove hives and honeycombs and wasp nests.

“We also do moves, whether it’s in structures, or if it’s like a swarm on the side of your house or on the fence or on your car, we’ll pick them up,” Ruf said. “We’ll actually go out and do some small-scale wasp removal as well. Sometimes we’ll save wasps and move them around because they’re just as important to pollinators as bees. Keeping spiders away. So, they help spider populations. So that’s a whole different story.”

The Rufs also offer many bee products, including raw honey and beeswax.

“Then, of course, we have honey, beeswax, and we make all kinds of farmer’s market type products that we only sell at farmers’ markets. We don’t do websites just because honey and beeswax are very expensive products,” Ruf said.

Although she is a beekeeper, Ruf is not the biggest fan of honey.

“It’s not about me, it’s not about the honey. In fact, I’m not the biggest fan of honey. I love tasting honey and trying to figure out where it comes from geographically, but that’s just because as a beekeeper, it’s important that you know beforehand the floral resources in your area for your bees, because you need to know that there is enough food for them. it’s kind of your thing to taste honey from different regions for each and try to figure out which flowers predominate. But I’m not a big fan of honey,” Ruf said.

Ruf went on to say, “I’m not a big fan of taking that away from them because it’s their food. It’s their carb source. It’s baby food. It’s baby food. the queen, the nine yards. Honey was made strictly for the bees. It’s just a luxury we can afford.

During inactive seasons, the crew will disinfect the honeycomb.

“Then the rendering of the wax kind of comes in the fall after the honey production. You will have leftover beeswax that you have to render and clean and then sanitize. After so many years, you will remove in makes the bees’ honeycomb for an inactive season and will return it, clean it, and we will generally use it for candles and other similar products,” Ruf said.

Ruf’s favorite aspect of beekeeping is the therapy she receives from this task.

“Really my favorite part of beekeeping is actually just standing there reading the hive because if you can imagine a hive is like a filing cabinet – each box is a drawer and in that drawer you have the frames which are your records. And so, you go there, it’s kind of like doing a magic trick. You have to know what you’re looking for. Look for a disease, look to make sure all functions are normal. How is that? behavior? Are the babies okay? Where is the queen? How is she? Where do we need to intervene, if at all? And then be able to walk away from a colony that runs and runs like a well-oiled machine is so satisfying,” Ruf said.

Follow Hive of the Rising Sun on Instagram @hiveoftherisingsunapiariesllc for the latest information on products and services, and where to find them.