One of the side benefits of having random late fall, early winter blooms on our potted Mexican lime tree - aside from the fabulous sweet smell - is that the honey bees are all over them.
Despite colony collapse disorder, we seem to have a fairly substantial bee population around East Austin. I know because they are never far from the blooming plants in my yard.
Bees have been on my mind lately.
John and I eat so much honey that we buy it in bulk sizes, and for years, we've talked about getting land and raising bees to harvest our own. I really first became interested in bees when I was studying wasps in graduate school. As part of those studies, I was exposed to a lot of literature on bees and bee behavior. Plus, I used to where a bee suit when working on the wasps (it made a great Halloween costume for John, too).
I have several beekeeping friends and one who is studying to become one. She gets her first hive this spring and (I think) will be placing them out near Bastrop on some land.
All this is to say that I wasn't sure we could make it happen until we had LAND out THERE somewhere. But more and more, I'm seeing beehives in Austin city lots - backyards AND front yards. In fact, here's a whole blog dedicated to urban beekeeping in Austin.
There's lots of reasons to have bees (honey being a huge one), but they are also massive pollinators. Not only can you encourage native bees to thrive (like we're doing with native bee nesting boxes), but imagine having an entire hive of honey bees buzzing around! And making honey? Oh my.
Unawares to John, I've been secretely thinking about how our flat garage roof might be perfect for a honey bee hive. It's far away from the dog and humans. We could build a permanent ladder to get up there. The only worry I have is that it will get really hot up there, though maybe if I locate the hive under the pecan it won't be too bad...it might just be time for some consultants...
In the meantime, here's an article in the New York Times about the rise in beekeeping. And a great site for those of us interested in Texas native bees, where you can learn about certifying your garden as an official bee garden!