The honey they sell is raw and locally harvested in Orange County. The organic quality is what makes Bee Ladies’ honey so appealing to customers.
The raw honey stands can be found in Placentia, Huntington Beach, Fullerton, Irvine, Lake Forest, Anaheim Hills, Costa Mesa and Newport Beach and at special events.
The Bee Ladies got their name after Gallaugher did a learning talk at a grade school in Yorba Linda. When she was leaving, the kids stood up from their lunch table and yelled, “Bye Bee Lady,” she said.
“I knew then, that was our name,” Gallaugher said.
She has had the bees for fourteen years. Each year, she makes the trip to northern California to replenish her supply of bees, which can cost $5,000 and up.
“I personally don’t make a ton of money doing this. I just keep bees alive,” Gallaugher said.
Working with animals has always been a part of Gallaugher’s life. She has worked in agriculture for 50 years. She attended Brea Olinda High School and worked with livestock in the 4-H club, an agricultural club, and Future Farmers of America.
After high school, she went to Mt. San Antonio College and majored in animal science. After deciding not to pursue that career, she attended Cal Poly Pomona with a major in agriculture business.
Even though she wasn’t fond of that field of study either, she admits that what she learned was beneficial.
“I still don’t really like that, but I’m very good at it—doing things in my head. If I have to sit down and be a business person, I don’t like that. But I’ve learned how to make projections and calculate costs, and I do it all in my head,” Gallaugher said.
After college, she ran a floral company, selling flowers for 10 years.
“I feel very happy. Who would’ve thought I had to go through all those steps and go to college and end up being happy selling honey in the street,” Gallaugher said.
In 2001, she got ill and took medicine that didn’t seem to work. Gallaugher bought three hives of bees, but lost two. Because she was too sick, her friend took the bees and housed them in her orchard.
The bees are a labor of love. They need to be fed with sugar syrup, and with the amount of bees she has now, they eat about 10 buckets that she carries to them.
This intense involvement with the bees can sometimes be taxing.
The typical night for Gallaugher is filling containers with honey and days are spent at farmers markets. She has also begun to make appearances at events. Elizabeth Meyer, Gallaugher’s mother, said working with the bees is “magical.”
“The benefit of this career is to her health,” Meyer said. “She is rewarded by helping other people.”
Gallaugher has appeared at the Orange County Fair the past seven years, demonstrating her expertise about the importance of bees in the ecosystem and the nutritional benefits of honey.
Taking care of the bees takes up most of her time. She admits it’s a hands-on job and that she’s dirty most of the time. However, she said she enjoys it.
“I feel like I was lost and now I am found. I was always trying to fit into a mold of being a secretary or in a job with a title. And I found out I was really OK being a beekeeper. It’s an honorable job,” Gallaugher said.
“She’s gained agricultural experience,” Meyer said. “From the early days until now, all of that has built her to where she is now. She has a great understanding of the process of beekeeping and the importance of it.”
Unfortunately, Gallaugher’s business was affected by the drought. She said the lack of water affected crops and how much nectar the bees can harvest from them. The bees then have to eat the honey that she would normally harvest.
“If we all acted like bees in a beehive, this world would be a better place,” Gallaugher said. “There would be no hunger. There would be no homeless. Bees take care of themselves. It’s all about the common good.”
The Bee Ladies appear weekly at local markets as posted on this website. Plan to stop by and sample the honey, learn the health benefits of raw honey and buy products.