Bee Conscious™ Small Business Spotlight: Texas Beeworks
There are many beekeepers in the Austin area, but one of the busiest bees is Texas Beeworks’ Erika Thompson managing multiple Beehives spanning across Central Texas. Erika is a huge believer in “Bees Before Honey”, and focuses on bee conservation all around the Austin Metroplex . Although they do sell some bee products, Texas Beeworks is more of a bee advocacy company. They offer beekeeping classes, safe live bee removal and relocation, and Ag based tax exemptions for property owners. Texas Beeworks is also very active in the fight against bee-killing pesticides and stood on the steps of the capital building with Environment Texas in July of 2019, calling for the ban of Neonicotinoids. Erika was kind enough to take time out of her buzzy schedule to provide Meridian Hive with an in-depth view of her day-to-day responsibilities, and some quick insight regarding Texas Beeworks.
We met up with Erika on a cloudy Wednesday morning at one of her Ag Exempt properties in the Austin area. Tucked away in field and off the beaten path, were four beautiful stand-alone beehives. Before getting a closer look, we had to get suited up in the proper protective garments: a full bee suit complete with a hood and gloves. Erika lovingly greets the bees with a “hello babies!”, as she opens the first hive, revealing about 50,000 bees working together in perfect harmony. While bare-handedly pulling up frame upon frame of beautifully gradient honeycomb and broods, Erika explained the origins of Texas Beeworks and the life cycle of your typical Texas Honeybee. After exploring the hives, Erika then answered some of our questions.
Meridian Hive: “How did you first get into beekeeping?”
Erika: “Growing up I was always collecting bugs, putting them in mason jars and keeping them as pets, even my best friends. When I first started to keep bees, I looked at them exactly like pets, caring for them, learning about them. It grew my respect and admiration for these creatures, and it continues to grow everyday. Everyday I see something different or learn something new about bees and they're remarkable. I'm the luckiest person.”
Meridian Hive: “When did Texas Beeworks come together?”
Erika: “4 or 5 years ago, I started the company to sustain my hobby. Once you become a beekeeper and you really, really love it. It turns into wanting more and more bees, more and more hives, and like anything else you just want to get deeper into it. The way I could support myself and my habit was starting to do some bee work, people started to ask me "hey can you put bees on my property for the Ag Exemption or will you teach a beekeeping class?". I just started to say yes to almost everything and a lot of really great opportunities came my way. I am incredibly lucky that the business is extremely successful and continues to be. I mean, it's my full-time job, I get to do what I love everyday and it's the coolest! I spend a lot of time driving around Central Texas. I get to see beautiful parts, go to amazing properties and get to keep bees in really interesting places. I get to do what I love everyday. It's amazing.”
Meridian Hive: “What is the 5 year plan for Texas Beeworks? What is the ultimate goal?”
Erika: “I just want to see bees and beekeepers, specifically in Texas, continue to grow and thrive. We're starting a YouTube channel so we can give out some free bee education, hopefully reach out to people beyond just locally. I’m trying to start more hives and help beekeepers in the area as well as give more private lessons to allow for more educational opportunities. Through the Ag Exemption there are a lot of people who ask for our services to keep bees on their land but there is also a lot of people who want to become beekeepers. People want to set up a hive in their backyard just casually, which is also great. I might overuse the phrase but, more bees more better. Anyway you want to get into beekeeping, whether it’s for honey or your fascinated by the species, I think it’s great.”
Meridian Hive: “Seven states have voted to ban or have banned Neonicotinoids. Do you think Texas will pass legislation to ban Neonicotinoids on a State level? If not, what do you think is holding Texas back?”
Erika: “I sure hope so. Beyond the seven states, the European Union has recognized that these are extremely harmful to bees. I mean it's scientifically proven, and they have them totally banned. Texas is a huge agricultural state, and it's also a very red state. Both of these will slow down the process of getting these banned. I would love to see the Legislation passed. It's passed locally- on city land you are not allowed to use Neonicotinoids. All credit given to Environment Texas. They are a great group that's working to get this legislation passed on the state level and on many local levels. They're doing amazing work and I'm extremely proud to be able to partner with them. I don't really know what’s holding Texas back except for people's own agendas and mindsets. We might all think differently, but we can all agree that this is proven to be harmful to bees so let’s get it out.”
It was truly a pleasure to spend time learning and observing with Erika and the bees, we can’t wait to for future endeavors with Texas Beeworks! Follow Texas Beeworks on Instagram, Facebook, or at their website for Ag Exemption details, Beekeeping Classes, Live Bee Removals and more!