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November 2, 2020
Authentic: William Helfgott
WHEN MOST KIDS WERE FOCUSED ON LEARNING TO PLAY A SPORT or running around in the neighborhood with their friends, 8 year old William Helfgott was diving into learning the art of beekeeping with his first hive, a hive won through a local giveaway. Now, William is entering his senior year of high school, is a certified beekeeper, runs a local honey business called River Bluff Honey, and manages roughly 30–35 hives around the CSRA. He’s gone from selling honey from his bicycle to having it sold as many as 18 different local shops.
With college on the horizon, William has been preparing to wind down his operations to a level that can be sustained while he’s away at school. He plans to continue harvesting honey from the hives on his school breaks like Thanksgiving, Christmas, spring break, and over the summer. His goal is to train those that own the hives he manages to keep the bees themselves while he is away.
“I’m passing on the knowledge that was passed down to me years ago when I first began learning how to keep bees,” said William. “It’s nice to see how each student is growing and learning.”
Like all business owners, William had to adapt when COVID-19 shut down the local storefronts where he sold his River Bluff Honey. He had to find a different way to get his product in front of those that wanted to purchase it when they couldn’t visit their favorite local shop to do so.
“What was nice about the situation was that when the stores couldn’t buy the honey, I shifted to selling online directly to the consumer,” said William. “It was really neat to be able to meet the people who were buying and enjoying the honey rather than just selling to the store owner.” William is passionate about beekeeping and believes that the final harvest honey is the best part about managing a hive. The most challenging aspect comes from living and managing hives in the South in the summertime. “The most difficult part about beekeeping is the heat,” said William. “The best time of year to check on your bees and harvest honey is during the summer. When it’s 97 degrees out with a heat index of 105 degrees, you’re putting on a full body suit made of thick cotton, and you’re lifting boxes from the hives that weigh upwards of 50–60 lbs, you get really hot, really fast.”
Through the hot days and through the pandemic, William is steadfast in providing a delicious end product to our community. Haven’t tried his local River Bluff Honey yet? You can order a jar for yourself online at riverbluffhoney.com or you can shop for it locally in downtown Aiken at Plum Pudding.