If you’re in Austin, Texas around the holidays, you can’t help noticing the decorations lining Loop 360. One particular tree is a family tradition, thanks to the Nickens family that has decorated here for 20 years.

Melissa Moze, who heads up the family tree decoration every year, explained that her mom, Beverly, was known as Honey Bee, so they started doing the bee tree in 2010, the year their mom got sick.

It is a deeply meaningful project to their family and friends and helps everyone remember and honor Honey Bee.

First, they gather to make the honeybees or spruce up the ones saved from the previous year, using yellow duct tape on plastic containers and window screens for wings. Then they all travel to find their favorite tree for the season to decorate.

This video is less than 3 minutes long and shows you the honey bee tree:

In 2018 the decorations were removed before Christmas, so this year Moze attached a letter to the tree that shares the story behind the theme.

An event called “Santa’s Cleanup Crew Rampage” planned to pick up ornaments last Sunday afternoon so litter doesn’t end up in waterways or the Greenbelt. There was concern that the Honey Bee Tree may be stripped of its bees during the event.

Austinites were asked back in October by the Bull Creek Foundation not to decorate the trees on 360, referring to it as litter.

Moze understands what they are doing and admits many people don’t come and clean up their trees, but she and her family return every year on January 2 to break down the display and keep their honeybee ornaments for the following year.

The family has no desire to hurt people, animals or the environment. They simply wish to honor a loved one in a responsible and joyful way. It’s a family tradition and is always a special moment when the family comes together. Some young family members recall going to decorate the tree since they were young.

The family planned to be out at the Honey Bee Tree sharing the story of the tree with whoever shows up for the big clean up.

This is a beautiful story, filled with love, remembrance, and family unity. The family’s purpose is deeply personal, but their Honey Bee Tree also raises consciousness and awareness about the beloved honeybee that so selflessly and tirelessly pollinates flowers and crops, making it possible for us to put fresh foods on our plates. Honeybees honor their Queen Bee just like Moze and her family honor Beverly, their own Queen Honey Bee.