Tag: Round Rock

Sweet New Law for Texas Honey Producers

September is National Honey Month and Texas bees are celebrating a new state law that will lighten the regulations placed on small scale beekeepers.

Round Rock Honey drives from hive to hive in style with their decorated van and personalized license plate. The family-owned and operated business not only produces the purest of wildflower honey but also educates future beekeepers and the general public.

Round Rock Honey drives from hive to hive in style with their decorated van and personalized license plate. The family-owned and operated business not only produces the purest of wildflower honey but also educates future beekeepers and the general public. Photo by: Erin MacInerney

By: Morgan Bridges, Erin Griffin, Erin MacInerney, Jamie Pross

To bee or not to bee, won’t be a question anymore for bee hobbyists producing under 200 gallons of honey annually. The new Texas statute means they will be exempt from costly state health licensing requirements other larger manufacturers face.

The queen bee of honey, Hayden Wolf, thinks this will increase honey production around the state. As the 2015 American Honey Princess, Wolf represents Texas all around the nation advocating the importance of bees in keeping our ecosystem humming perfectly.

“This new law helps my family and I because we have always wanted to sell our honey,” Wolf says. “It’s a great opportunity for beekeepers.”

The 19-year-old manages 12 hives with her parents in East Texas but does not produce enough honey or have the time to make a business out of it.

The new law would allow beekeepers like Wolf and her family to sell their honey directly to consumers at farmers markets or small venues as long as proper labeling distinguishes their product from those bottled in inspection facilities.

Bee enthusiasts say the warm Texas climate is a haven for raising honey bees.  Many keepers from Northern states bring their hives to Texas during the winter months.

“It’s a lot easier than getting a pet,” Wolf says. “You don’t even have to take them on a leash and walk them everyday!”

If you are concerned with getting the proper vitamin bee from your honey, don’t let that adorable bear-shaped bottle at the supermarket fool you.

Pollen studies conducted by Professor Vaughn M. Bryant of Texas A&M University found that over 75 percent of honey sold at large chain stores and restaurants had the pollen removed making it impossible to trace the legitimate source or ingredients.

Take a look at a jar of honey and you might find ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup and other artificial sweeteners. What you won’t see on the label are antibiotics, heavy metals and other harsh chemicals that could have contaminated the honey throughout the process.

These honey bunches of lies make it easier for manufacturers to cut costs and extend shelf life consequently removing the health benefits completely

The honey sold at co-ops, farmers markets and “natural stores” yielded the full, expected amounts of pollen.

The new law encourages sales of local honey which means a higher chance of consuming 100 percent, organic honey without the cheap additives.

“There are many benefits of honey and if you are not getting the pure product, you might not be getting those benefits,” Wolf says. “The best way to know you are actually getting the best honey is to know your beekeeper personally and ask them questions.”

Texas ranks sixth in the nation for honey production, but our bees still face major threats of disease, negative effects of pesticide use and global warming.

“It’s a fairly simply hobby but it has become harder to keep our bees alive in the past years. Now we have to check the hives every two to three weeks,” Wolf says. “It used to be easier in the old days.”

Mystery syndromes not fully understood such as Colony Collapse Disorder have created quite a buzz in the last decade. Annual bee colony losses averaged around 42 percent this past year according to a study conducted by the Apiary Inspectors of America.

“It is important we try to keep them alive, to keep ourselves alive,” says Melanie Brown, Founder of BEEVO, The University of Texas’ Beekeeping Society. “Bees pollinate a lot of our crops and without them, we would have a serious shortage of food.”

About 80 percent of the food on grocery store shelves are there thanks to bees according to the International Bee Research Association.

Brown says the BEEVO club has a substantial following since initiating this last spring.
The goal of the society is to engage students, faculty, and staff in urban beekeeping as part of an effort towards sustainable pollinator populations.

“I’m more passionate about the environmental impacts of beekeeping but there are a lot of people on campus who are just super into beekeeping,” Brown says. “I am happy they now have an outlet to share their knowledge.”

 

Bee Story-8

 

Coyotes Out to Survive in the Neighborhood

Contributed by: Chris Caraveo, Cheyenne Matthews-Hoffman, Cheney Slocum

They’re out there. In the area. And hungry.

Multiple coyote sightings in the Austin and Round Rock areas this year have put residents on alert as they go about their daily routines. In the month of January Austin citizens have reported 86 coyote complaints, an increase from 74 at this same time last year.

Haley Hudnall of Austin Wildlife Rescue said that the gradual increase in coyotes, along with bobcats, in the area have become more common because of Austin expansion.

“There’s nowhere else for them to go,” Hudnall said. “So they’re learning to live in the city at least a little bit. They’re eating mice and rats and whatever is available to them.”

It all comes down to survival.

“They’re just running out of places to go so they have to learn how to live in the city like opossums and raccoons or else they don’t live,” she said.

A more serious concern deals with lingering coyotes near elementary and middle schools.

On Friday, January 24, Great Oaks Elementary School sent out a letter to parents  warning that coyotes had been seen in the Brushy Creek Greenbelt and that  students would be supervised when they were outside.

On Friday, January 24, Great Oaks Elementary School sent out a letter to parents
warning that coyotes had been seen in the Brushy Creek Greenbelt and that
students would be supervised when they were outside.

Up in Round Rock, schools like Great Oaks Elementary have seen the fox-like animal in the vicinity. School staff and parents have both worried over the safety of students who have to walk to and from school.

“Our elementary and middle schools don’t have buses because we all live in the area,” Great Oaks preschool teacher Lisa Baumann said.

Lisa Baumann talks coyotes

The school administration sent out a notice to alert parents about the coyote problem near the school and informed them about how to address the issue to their children.

In the letter it states that while coyote attacks on humans are rare children should walk in groups to provide a numbers advantage. It also urges students to never approach a wild animal, yell at an approaching coyote and to get away from the area if it doesn’t flee.

The overall aim with dealing with these coyotes is to prevent harmful incidences while also respecting their nature. Like most un-domesticated wildlife coyotes developed aggressive predator skills in order to survive.

“They have killed a small dog on a home that backed up against the Greenbelt,” Baumann said. “So they are hungry, they are out there and they’re moving around.”

As coyotes try to survive within city there comes a great risk of them getting harmed themselves.

Via social media Round Rock resident David Squires said a freshly killed coyote was spotted on a service road less than a mile from two Murchison and Highland Park Elementary Schools.

In a report last August by Austin’s KTBC Fox, Texas Wildlife Services euthanized two coyotes because they had chased someone from Blunn Creek Nature Preserve.

In the event that a coyote is not killed but sustains any injuries, there are not many places within Austin that can treat them.

Wildlife rehabilitation organizations are a good place to start if you find an injured coyote or a wild animal that has been injured by a coyote. The health department had previously kept Austin Wildlife Rescure from taking in coyotes or foxes. This year should be different.

Wildlife rehabilitation organizations are a good place to start if you find an injured coyote or a wild animal that has been injured by a coyote. The health department had previously kept Austin Wildlife Rescure from taking in coyotes or foxes. This year should be different.

Austin Wildlife Rescue, located on Martin Luther King Blvd., currently does not have state certification to care for the animal. But there are hopes that it will become authorized to do so.

“As of last year we were not allowed to,” Hudnall said. “But laws are starting to change and this year we’re supposed to do that. We don’t have the official word yet.”

As more coyote dens become uninhabitable these displaced animals have to move somewhere else and eat something other than what they’ve been accustomed to.

They just might have to do that around the city.