Asheville, NC is Bee City USA

Bee in Fairview

Honey Bees Make Life Sweeter in the Mountains

Asheville goes by many names, including Land of the Sky, Paris of the South, Beer City USA and also Bee City USA. That's right—Bee City, as in honey bees.

Honeybee by finklezHoneybee (apis mellifera) by Eran Finkle (Flickr/finklez)

The city became the inaugural Bee City USA in 2012, officially designating the community as one of the first in the nation to champion pollinators, educate residents and businesses about the essential role of the honey bee and other pollinators in making our world bloom and fruit.

The Bee City USA initiative has welcomed 204 cities into the hive from across 46 states, plus D.C. and Puerto Rico.

In addition, the University of North Carolina at Asheville received dual recognition in 2018 as both Bee Campus USA and Tree Campus USA. UNC-Asheville became the nation's eight certified bee campus in 2016.

Bee Inspired

But the sweetest part of Asheville's love affair with bees goes back decades. Honey has long been a part of  Appalachian food culture, and today there are many ways to enjoy this sticky treat.

Asheville Bee Charmer is a boutique and honey tasting bar with two locations in downtown. Visitors can sample several varieties of local, regional and world honeys on a honey flight selected by owners and honey experts Kim and Jillian. Peruse a carefully curated selection of bee-themed wares, from skin care and candles to mugs and jewelry.

Honey & the Hive is a bee-centric store in nearby Weaverville. The shop offers local honey, beekeeping needs and honey-based beauty products. It also has demonstrations geared toward both the advanced and aspiring beekeeper.

Asheville Bee Charmer

Home honey enthusiasts should grab a copy of The Fresh Honey Cookbook, a fresh recipe collection from Laurey Masterton, former owner of a popular downtown Asheville café and a long-time beekeeper and bee advocate. Favorite recipes include Meyer lemon and honey-marinated chicken skewers and (an Appalachian specialty) candy roaster squash soup.

Get into a sticky situation with the Asheville Bee Charmer Honey Lavender Facial treatment offered at Spa Theology downtown. This 60-minute pampering uses local honey from Asheville Bee Charmer and a local Privai Lavender Milk Masque to calm, reduce inflammation, and lock in moisture.

In a place called Foodtopia, it's no wonder local restaurants are also buzzing about local honey. Find the nectar on the menu alongside fried eggplant at Cúrate and on everything from fried chicken to biscuits at Tupelo Honey Café.

The nearby town of Black Mountain celebrates local sourwood honey every summer with the annual Sourwood Festival, held this year on August 10-11. The fest attracts some 30,000 visitors who come for the music, dancing, arts & crafts vendors, food, kids' activities, and—of course—honey tastings and bee demos. More than 200 vendors make this mountain festival a family favorite.

Updated May 9, 2024