Bee2Bee Collective Urges Inner Loopers to Host Hives
When you think about local honey, you might imagine the liquid gold harvested from the small towns surrounding Houston, often jarred and sold at farmers’ markets and sometimes spotted on the shelves of major grocers. Bee2Bee Collective founder Nicole Buergers is working hard to change that: in 2015, the former B2B marketer jumped from growing brands to bee husbandry, and she’s urging inner-loopers to put honey bees in their backyards.
Transitioning from the office to beekeeping was not easy, but it was rewarding. “The most surprising thing about starting out and having a small business has been how forgiving people are,” explains Buergers. “If I’m outside in a bee suit I can’t always answer the phone, it may be some time until I call or email you back. People have been very understanding and know I am a one-woman operation.”
According to studies published at the National Center for Biotechnology Information, consuming small amounts of raw natural honey and royal jelly from hives found in your neighborhood can greatly decrease many allergy symptoms, assist in wound healing and settle an upset stomach. “Bees are around us all the time, and people have no idea,” says Buergers. “Urban honey bees do better [than bees in rural areas] because of the diversity of plants found in urban gardens.”
In recent years, conscientious gardeners in Houston have made efforts to plant more pollinator-friendly landscapes using native-growing plants like lantana, black-eyed Susan, Texas sage, society garlic and trumpet vine to assist in the pollinating process and help honeybees thrive. (You can find a guide to Houston-area plants that support pollinators here.) Also growing in interest is keeping hives in one’s own backyard, which Buergers helps homeowners set up and maintain. “Our goal is to both teach people interested in beekeeping how to take care of their own hives, and to provide hyperlocal honey to buyers,” she explains.
Buerger says it’s still a struggle to work with people’s ideas around urban bees. “Many people have a misconception about bees buzzing around in their backyard,” she explains. “People sometimes are afraid of honeybees or think they’re allergic to them; 9 out of 10 times, they’re not. Sometimes they think beekeeping is a lot of work, it’s actually really easy and doesn’t take much effort. It’s so cathartic when the bees are buzzing… you feel the rhythm of nature and the earth. The beekeeping world needs smaller-scale beekeepers.”
The growing trend of backyard beekeeping means that bees are in demand, and there is often a waiting list. “Honey bees need to be ordered between November and February in order to have bees for your hive (~$200 deposit). April is generally when the bees arrive and we get to work.” While Bee2Bee Collective offers a monthly hive-minding service starting at $75 a month, Buergers makes it clear that she wants to teach you how to safely care for your own bees. “My goal is to hand off the keys to the bees,” she explained. “If you have a bee-mergency, I can come by as long as needed to care for the hive.”
“My goal is to continue to build a small army of smart beekeepers in Houston. I’ll teach you everything you need to know. Beekeeping is about making people aware of nature. It’s for those who appreciate the art and evolution of lifelong learning.”
Bee2Bee Honey Collective, www.bee2beehoney.com
Story by Taylor Byrne Dodge