Texas Beekeeper On Why Winter Freeze Impacted Bees
The winter storm in February 2021 was one of the worst ice and snow storms ever in the state of Texas, and biologists at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department are still analyzing how it impacted wildlife in the state.
The historic storm had a devastating impact on many bees belonging to one Central Texas beekeeper. Tara Chapman is the owner and founder of a business called Two Hives Honey. She manages hives in 350 yards across Central Texas, while maintaining 15 hives on her farm in Manor. The business is multi-faceted, offering honey sales, hive tours, beekeeping equipment and beekeeping classes. Tara loves teaching.
After she took a beekeeping class about six years ago, she quit her job with the CIA to become a beekeeper. She loves bees so much and says there is never a shortage of things to learn where these fascinating creatures are involved.
Bees usually do well when it comes to keeping themselves warm in cold temperatures, and even in sub-freezing temperatures. Consequently, the freezing storm that hit and lingered over Texas this past February would not have damaged bees in the northern part of the USA much.
In this 1:00-minute video by Tara Chapman she talks about her bee company, Two Hives Honey:
The problem in Texas was that spring had already begun when the epic winter storm hit, at least as far as bees go. Tara says the bees were already producing young baby bees, rearing brood. This does not happen during winter, because it puts an undue burden on the bees to care for their young while trying to keep the colony and the queen bee warm.
This year her winter losses were 30% compared to the usual 5%. The losses can’t be recouped as they normally would be, because many of the surviving hives were weakened, so new hives can't be made from existing hives.
This is the first time in 4-5 years she has had to buy bees from breeders. She took out a small business loan to buy several dozen hives due to the freeze.
General agricultural losses from the February storm across the state of Texas stand at about $600 million according to researchers at Texas A&M University.
Since weather and climate change are constantly growing worse, those who work with bees and in other areas of agriculture should prepare for sudden changes and to expect the unexpected.
Tara has decided to focus on what she can control, and part of that is in keeping a positive outlook. Beekeeping is not easy. It is dirty and can tire you out, with many perilous possibilities along the path. She feels fortunate to love what she does and be able to make money from her passion. All beekeepers are blessed, since they get to do what they love.
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