by Mackenzie Palmer, Kathryn Miles, Peyton Yager and Taylor Gantt
It’s a passion for their protection and a bravery of one’s will that has left the Reburn’s able to work near an ever-growing sworn of bees.
Tanya and Chuck Reburn began Bee Friendly Austin five years ago to do their part in saving the world. They agreed their mission began as a combination of a hobby and an eco friendly initiative they took upon themselves to improve agriculture in the Austin area and around the United States.
They started after Tanya had decided to do some research on the pros of bee keeping. After going to an informational meet and great with other beekeepers, the Reburn’s decided to get started on their own.
They began ordering bees simply from the Internet. Starting out with five colonies, it quickly turned into 20 by the end of the first year.
“The next year 40, and then 80,” Chuck said. “Now we manage over a 100, 200 colonies typically in a year.”
The spring is their busiest time of year. On a typical day they are either making equipment or working in the bee yard 12 hours a day.
Chuck stated how Austin is a good place for bee farming. Austin doesn’t have major crops that can cause problems such as pesticides making it a perfect condition for bees.
“Other areas of the country have more problems than Austin does,” Reburn said
Bee Friendly Austin extends classroom teachings to educate the public and offer beginning and more advance beekeeping lessons. They also breed and take care of their own bees, which in returns provides them with honey that they sell.
Each box has a queen and about 10,000 worker bees. Bees reproduce in the spring where the current colony basically promotes a new bee to become queen, starting a new colony. The Reburns are able to have some control over this process, which allows them to keep producing new colonies and breed more queen bees to keep hives productive.
With our nation in a bee epidemic, the Reburn’s are aiding in agricultural production and are encouraging others to do so as well. Chuck described the issue as having two calves every year and having one of them die.
He said it’s not exactly as much of an epidemic as everyone thinks it is.
“We’ll make about, say a 50% increase and then lose 40% so we come out ahead every year but the problem is from someone producing something it’s expensive” Reburn said.
He also explained that one of the biggest areas that are struggling with the dwindling numbers of bees is the almond production, specifically in California. He said that a couple million beehives need to go into almonds and there are just only so many available. They’re planting more and more almonds every year so the demand for bees going to almonds to do pollination is increasing faster than the number of bee’s available to do it.
Chuck deals with the hives daily upkeep and honey production. He states that one can learn much about the world by working with bees.
“What we can learn from the bees is that it’s by helping each other and sharing everything they have equally that they actually lift themselves up and further their creation, further themselves into the future,” Chuck said.
Working in this business comes with a risk, and Chuck said he has taken many stings’ to the body, but now it hardly fazes him.
“Getting stung a couple times a day is fairly normal,” Chuck said. “When it’s hot out I work with less protective gear on and if I get stung it’s not a big deal.”
The couple now sells their honey in the Austin downtown Whole Foods as well as several gift shops in the area but they maintain their stance on the bee endeavor as mainly enjoyment purposes. They are proud to no longer use any sugar at their house and rely solely on honey for their cooking and lip waxes.
Apiary tours and Texas raw honey are available at their house in southwest Austin, which they leave open to visitors, tours and customers daily during business hours.
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