edible notables

A Collective Focus on Bees

By Jennifer Trandell / Photography By Trent Veazy | August 11, 2016
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Close up of bees on their honeycomb

Did you know that urban beehives do better than rural hives? According to local beekeeper, Nicole Buergers, Houston’s climate and the diversity of plants blooming year round are the ideal environment for bees. In February, Buergers launched Bee2Bee Honey Collective (bee2beehoney.com) to provide urban beekeeping services, honeybee education and an online store for Houston apiarists to sell local honey.

Three years ago Nicole started her first backyard hive in the Montrose and now she maintains 21 hives in clients’ yards around the city. She utilizes the Langstroth beehive, a traditional hive invented in the 1800s. The box-shaped structure opens from the top, while the bees build honeycombs on the removable vertical frames. A typical backyard beehive will produce anywhere from two to 10 gallons of honey. The first honey harvest can happen in as little as six months or longer than a year, depending on the weather conditions. Drought or abundant rainfall will diminish the activity of bees and thus honey production. In general, bees prefer morning sun. They also like it hot.

In Houston’s temperate climate, a hive can produce twice a year, once in the spring and again in the fall. The time of year and flowers pollinated will affect the flavor and color of the honey. Unlike rural hives, bees in the city pollinate more than one crop, further affecting flavor. Nicole explained, “Using the map on the website, people can find the closest source of honey to their neighborhood with flavor profiles, food pairing and usage recommendations.”

Collecting honey from the hive

Part of the beekeeping service is honey extraction. “I give the client a larger portion and keep a smaller portion for myself. I give the honey in buckets and the client can jar, label and sell. I also give the rules and regulations as per Texas law.” For an additional fee, Nicole will help jar and label the honey to sell on the Bee2Bee Honey website.

The main goal of the business is beekeeping and honeybee education. Nicole teaches classes at Houston Makerspace. “Not everyone needs to keep bees. I want to create more beekeepers, but I also want to educate children that bees are our friends and they are very necessary. I want to do my part to support bees.”

> Be sure to visit Buchanan’s Native Plants (buchanansplants.com) or Wabash (wabashfeed.com) for native and pollinator-friendly plants and trees. Wabash is Houston’s one-stop shop for all your beekeeper and beehive-building needs.

FOUR EASY STEPS TO SUPPORT BEES

1. Plant bee-friendly flowers, herbs and trees
2. Be judicious in pesticide use 
3. Provide a shallow water feature
4. Buy local honey

Article from Edible Houston at http://ediblehouston.ediblecommunities.com/things-do/collective-focus-bees
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