Sometimes when I am taking the back roads – the road less traveled, if you will – I ask myself “Wouldn’t it just be easier to take the interstate?”
But I will never again complain about the slight time difference after my find recently while driving from Charleston
– a trip I have made a thousand times – on S.C. Highway 61 – a route I had never taken.
. I saw a small sign advertising it as we left Plantation Row (also know as Ashley River Road) just outside of Charleston. Then about 30 minutes later as we were somewhere between Cottageville and Givhans Ferry
, I hit the brakes because there it was: Bee City Honeybee Farm & Petting Zoo & Nature Center. Oh and a children’s garden complete with Cottageville’s largest watering can (unverified factoid).
I’m not sure what I expected from Bee City, but what I found was fantastic.
Run by second-generation beekeepers, Scott and Bridgett Biering – Scott’s parents started the farm – Bee City blows the world’s biggest ball of twine and other roadside oddities out of the water.
The couple has a petting zoo that includes lemurs, monkeys, llamas, alpacas and goats – who also help out by eating the grass near the beehives – and a nature center with just about every variety of snake that can be found in South Carolina and other reptiles.
Their bees are neatly tucked away in the woods where they don’t interfere with the visitors and vice-versa, Bridgett Biering says. One working hive is kept behind glass so the public can see the little buzzers at work.
Oh, yeah, and the honey. Gallons and gallons of raw Tupelo honey are available in containers of all sizes in the Bee City store.
There also is a café offering the usual hamburgers, hot dogs and other roadside fare with the addition of barbecue, fried shrimp and catfish testifying to its almost-coastal South Carolina location.
Inside the café is an antiques room filled with old objects typical of the rural South and some not-so-old objects made to look antique.
Located between Givhans Ferry and Colleton County state parks along the Edisto River, Bee City is the perfect afternoon diversion for camping families and well worth the turn down the road less traveled.
Admission to the petting zoo is $5 for everyone 3 years old and older. And unlike most zoos, visitors are welcome to feed the animals here (as long as you feed them the prepared food sold for about $2.50 a cup in the store).
Bee City also welcomes school and church groups to visit and has a couple of options for activities.
During the summer, Bee City is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday and until 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. For the rest of the year, it is open only on Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
For you explorers with a GPS, Bee City is located at 1066 Holly Ridge Lane, Cottageville, 29435. If you get lost or want to bring a large group, give them a call at (843) 835-5912.