Harvested from milkweed grown on Orchard property, we raise Monarch butterflies in a specially built habitat at the Education Center (inside the red barn) from egg to larva to chrysalis to butterfly. Each fall, we tag the migrating generation prior to release. Over the years, six of our tags have been recovered in their Mexican over-wintering grounds. Some ask why do we do it? One reason is to protect them from natural predators. Another is to delight in the life cycle of this beautiful gift of nature. However, perhaps the overriding reason is that these orange and black creatures are one of nature's great pollinators—a major player in the eco-system that keeps the Orchard producing delicious heirloom apples. Usually, eggs are laid and located early in September. (This year we "found" four in late March.) Complete metamorphosis takes about 30 days; tagging as they emerge and are ready to fly.* View the habitat on your next visit. Each step is an experience we love sharing.

*Tagging events are scheduled when several break out of their chrysalises at the same time. Please watch this site and our facebook page for updates.


Thanks to a grant in 2020 from Deer Park Brand sponsored Blue Ridge Parkway Association, the Orchard was able to increase its honeybee hive numbers by six. Why is this important? Honeybees are one of the best pollinators. The more bees we have, the more pollen is drawn from the apple blossoms and deposited on other blossoms, the greater chance for apples to form. It's that ol' male/female thing—the bees carry pollen from the male part of the flower (stamen) to the female part of the same or another flower (stigma). The transfer of pollen must occur for the the plant to become fertilized and produce apples. And we're all about apples at the Orchard.
And now we have honey! It's been less than a year, but the honey is "dripping" down the sides of the jars. It's raw, unfiltered (except to remove those bits and pieces that break off), 100% pure honey made from Orchard at Altapass honeybees and its trees.
The next time you're in the General Store, check out the "hive," next to the honey. And check out the hundred of cubicles being filled with honey. Always busy, always on a mission to create more, these bees come and go through a tunnel to the outside. See if you can locate the queen. She's in there.


Milkweed for Monarchs!Milkweed, the larval plant for the monarch, is plentiful at The Orchard as are the monarchs. Unlike some other species of butterflies, monarchs have only one larval plant, so they depend on milkweed for survival. In areas where milkweed is scarce, monarchs are too. Unfortunately, the wild milkweed plant is frequently mowed down when development projects begin. We encourage you to plant milkweed around your home or property and to remind others to do the same. We are happy to share milkweed plants and seeds from our grounds to help others contribute to preserving this species


1025 Orchard Road

Spruce Pine, NC 28777

Blue Ridge Parkway
(mile marker 328.3)



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