The Birds & The Bees
Catching up with Brevard’s flying friends
Brevard’s forests, mountains and streams are home to an endlessly fascinating and diverse population of wildlife to discover during North Carolina’s year of the trail. Some of its most interesting residents tend to go high, soaring over the trees and hovering over flower beds. Brevard is a special place to catch up on the birds and the bees, whether you’re the queen bee of honey hoarders or just looking to put a new feather in your cap.
See You Later, Pollinator
Adventurers with a sweet tooth will find much to enjoy at Killer Bees Honey in Toxaway. This small, family-owned apiary offers a variety of bee tours and honey tastings. If you want to get a true “hive” experience, you can suit up and drone with the drones themselves. Afterwards, sample some of the sweet stuff with cheese, crackers, meats, fruit, and a beverage (alcoholic or non-). Designated by the North Carolina Wildlife Commission as a Wildlife Refuge, Killer Bees provides a welcoming place for all the insects and animals that pollinate the surrounding Pisgah National Forest.
A Warm Wel-Comb
Up the road from Killer Bees, the Southern Highlands Reserve is appropriately celebrated as a spectacular, native Blue Ridge plant arboretum, research center, and an A+ spot for scenic views. Gorgeous gardens, however, depend on happy bees. Over the last ten years, Reserve staff noticed that “feral” or “wild” honeybees were on site. For the past two years, they’ve been working with an expert, and in 2021, they caught their first honeybees and started a working hive. Visitors to Southern Highlands Reserve can hear all about bees, hives, and pollinators on docent-led tours.
Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch
For those inclined to get up close and personal, local honey can be found at a variety of locations around Brevard and Transylvania County. Pure Pisgah Honey in Lake Toxaway, Bee, Honey and Hive of Brevard, and Deep Woods Mushrooms of Mills River are all deliciously buzzy local honey purveyors. Check out their individual websites for details, and in some cases, find their wares at the Transylvania Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings in downtown Brevard.
Casual fans of feathery flights will find all sorts of opportunities to check out the bird scene in Brevard. For those looking for a more in-depth birdwatching experience, Ventures Birding Tours offers exciting, informative trips in Transylvania County and throughout the greater region led by knowledgeable and experienced guides. Expect to do a little hiking, a lot of watching, and let your spirits soar when you spot a particularly beautiful new feathered friend. And if you’re looking to schedule a little bird-spotting on the fly, the Transylvania County Bird Club offers free field trips Wednesdays and Saturdays unless there is inclement weather.
Beak Your Interest
Looking for a great self-guided birding trip? The North Carolina Birding Trail winds through Brevard, along the greenway and up into the Cradle of Forestry in Pisgah National Forest. You’ll pass some lovely scenery along the way, so make sure you bring your camera as well as your binoculars.
While Transylvania’s trees can be noisy with songbirds, it’s worth noting that some impressive birds of prey also keep local addresses. The always majestic and patriotic bald eagle is just one of the many VIPs to site their abodes along the Blue Ridge escarpment near Lake Toxaway. You can catch them on the way to the aerie alongside the lower edge of Jocassee Gorges Wilderness Area at Gorges State Park. If you’re lucky, you might catch sight of a golden eagle while you’re at it. If you’re not up for quite that much of a hiking adventure, there’s a lot of bird action visible from the deck at the Gorges State Park Visitor’s Center. Keep an eye out for Peregrine Falcons as well. The small, white bellied raptors are longtime fans of the rock cliffs in the Toxaway area.