Most Central Texans do their best to avoid bee hives, but an increasing number are making a hobby out of being near them.
Local beekeeper Jack Bresette-Mills' goal is to spread the word about harvesting honey the ‘humane’ way. He says the way mass-producers harvest honey is shrinking the bee population.
"It's our job as bee keepers, or as consumers, to figure out which honey is produced humanely without extra harm to bees," Bresette-Mills said.
Pesticide, mites and habitat loss have all contributed to their decline, according to the beekeeper.
A way to combat the decline is to raise the bees at home. Entomologist Wizzie Brown says the hobby of beekeeping is on the rise.
"Some people are into vegetable gardening. Then they took that a step further and did the chickens. Now they're into bees,” Brown said. "Honey fresh from the hive is fabulous. You have pollinators right in your backyard because you have that readymade hive right there, and it’s just a really fun thing to do. A lot of people really enjoy it."
It took Bressette-Mills about $1,000 to get started.
"It's easier to love the bees than any other insect I think. Maybe other than the butterfly because of the beauty. But the bee has such an amazing societal structure, it’s hard not to be impressed," he said.
The Texas Agrilife Extension Service is planning on having beekeeping classes. Call them at (512) 854-9600 or visit them online here.
View Bresette-Mills' blog at AustinBeeHelpers.net.