Erika Thompson is a bee mom who is every bit as industrious as the bees she cares for and loves.
Erika's business is called Texas Beeworks and it has more than 100 hives in the Austin, Texas area, which means more than 5 million bees. That adds up to a whole lot of liquid gold, better known as honey.
She likes to remind everyone that bees have a sweet side, even though they are often feared by people.
We need bees for our environment. In fact, without them the survival of humanity is questionable. Pollinator.org statistics indicate up to 95% of all flowering plants need pollinators like bees to help them reproduce. Bees sustain our ecosystems in ways we don’t even think about.
Being a beekeeper is no easy job, but Erika loves it. On a regular day, she puts on a bee suit, boots, veiled hat and gloves, and heads out to check her hives.
Erika sprays the bees with a bee smoker, so they stay calm. The smoke helps mask bee alarm pheromones, so they don’t send the signal around the hive to get aggressive. She helps the environment by using materials in her smoker that are either found or recycled. Like cardboard egg cartons, pine needles, pine cones and other things.
This short 2+ minute video shows Erika on a typical day taking care of her bees. You will hear music playing and see captions instead of hearing her speak.
Smoking bees helps beekeepers get their job done, and in the broiling Texas heat they don’t want to waste any time.
She visits each bee farm a minimum of two times monthly to head off any problems and make sure things are running smoothly.
Erika Thompson is a savvy businesswoman, too. Much of her expansion is thanks to the fact local homeowners allow her to use their land for her hives. In return, they can qualify for a significant decrease in their property taxes due to getting an agricultural “ag” exemption or valuation on their land.
This is a win-win-win situation, because the tax savings benefit Central Texas landowners with between 5-20 acres of land, Erika gets to grow her business without having to buy land, and there are ever more healthy bees around Austin.
Erika is big on saving bees, and there are many obstacles just to them staying alive these days. While honey is the sweet reward, she considers her business to be focused on helping hives and bees stay healthy and well.
Winter weather is a big hazard that kills off many bees. According to a nationwide survey by the Bee Informed Partnership, this past winter the average loss of US honeybee colonies dying was 37.7%, or 9% above average.
If you ever have a bee infestation at your property, please call a local beekeeper who will help relocate the bees. If you call an exterminator, they will just kill them.
Erika reminds us to be friendly to bees. These fuzzy pollinators are our friends.
If there are agricultural tax breaks that beekeepers can take advantage of in your part of the world, please let us all know over on our Facebook page!