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Honey, We’ve Got BEES by milk + honey!

September 28, 2017

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The U.S. honeybee population has been dying off in droves and the impact of this has a rippling effect on both our economy and on the global food supply. At the commercial beekeeping level, beekeepers are experiencing 30 to 50 percent hive loss (on average!) due to the not-so-mysterious Colony Collapse Disorder. Additionally, there have been major declines in native bee populations, which hold serious consequences for our native landscapes.

Let’s put it in everyday life perspective. Here’s what a meal without honeybees might look like, pictured below.

picnic without bees copyConsider that 90 percent of the wild plants you see around your neighborhood and 35 percent of the produce section in your local grocery store require bees to survive. Without bees, there will be a significant reduction in the quality and length of our planet’s health and human existence. Scary, right?

This is where our own story began in June 2015.

Alissa Bayer, milk + honey founder and owner, wanted to find a way to help the bees in the most direct way possible. So, in the winter of 2014, she reached out to Anna Gieselman. You may recognize Anna’s name from her gorgeous bee-inspired jewelry line, Bee Amour, which we sell in most of our locations. Or perhaps you know Anna as one of our original massage therapists. She has been a part of the milk + honey since our earliest days in 2006 and she also happens to be an experienced beekeeper.

Together, they partnered up to create an urban apiary, BEES by milk + honey.

Under milk + honey’s sponsorship, Alissa and Anna sourced bees from fourth-generation beekeepers at Bee Weaver, who have been raising bees without the use of chemical interventions for more than 15 years. Our small, but growing, urban apiary started as 10 hives in total — six were hosted on some beautiful land off of Bee Cave Road and four hives are located on a rooftop near 5th Street and I-35 (the old Progress Coffee spot!) — and today, we have more than a dozen thriving hives located in East Austin.

At our apiary, we practice “organic” beekeeping, meaning we choose not to use chemicals to treat the bees for pests. We raise our bees with the intention of supporting them through non-aggressive beekeeping techniques and with the goal of raising healthy strong hives for our environment. We have also started a beekeeping apprenticeship program for milk + honey employees, in the hopes of educating even more people about the importance of bees.

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Ultimately, we hope to see the apiary continue to thrive and expand in the coming years, as well as use the bees as a tool to keep the conversation going about the role humans must play in cultivating a healthy ecosystem.

Wondering how you can help, too?  Here are a few tips on how to start:

  1. Make a commitment to buy only organic produce and nuts when available and possible. By shopping at the numerous local farmers’ markets, you support organic growers and beekeepers in town. {FYI, this is a comprehensive list of food that requires pollinators.}
  2. Plant bee-supportive plants and do not use pesticides on those plants.
  3. Make a DIY solitary bee house.
  4. Petition Congress and local government officials to create and support bee-friendly agricultural policies and laws.

You can follow milk + honey and Anna’s beekeeping adventures on our Instagram as well as on Anna’s Instagram and Facebook page. Plus, stay tuned for more blog posts about what we are up to right here!

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