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15 April . 2016

Somethings A' Buzz in Sweetwater

Wildflower honey makes life sweeter at Sweetwater

Sweetwater enjoys a sweet perk from the community’s partnership with Round Rock Honey. Several times a year, the local company harvests raw wildflower honey made by busy bees right in the community.

“Sweetwater is heaven for honeybees, with acres of wildflowers, natural creeks and more than 700 acres of natural open space,” said Konrad Bouffard, owner of Round Rock Honey. Beginning in 2016, Round Rock Honey placed six beehives throughout Sweetwater, located near natural water sources and trees that can provide nectar. Wildflowers and native plants, such as persimmon trees and wild grapes, offer more sources of nectar and create a distinctive taste and color for Sweetwater honey.

At peak times, during late spring and early summer, the hives are home to up to 300,000 bees. They belong to the species apis mellifera, or western honey bee, prized for their sweet honey, gentle nature and hygienic habits. Bouffard said the Sweetwater hives can produce up to 400 pounds of honey a year, under optimal conditions, and the first honey harvest is expected by the end of 2016.

“Honey from that area of the Hill Country is very complex, with a deep flavor that has a nice persimmon twang,” he said. “The color is a beautiful chestnut brown, with a hint of red from the persimmon.”

Sweetwater’s beehives are located away from the community’s trail system, to protect both residents and the bees, but it’s easy to spot them. Just look for white boxes about the size of small suitcases, stacked anywhere from six to eight feet high and surrounded by fencing.

Bouffard said it’s easy for people and bees to coexist as neighbors. “You really have to try hard to get stung by a bee,” he said. “A bee will always bump you first if it thinks you are threatening. Just move away, and by all means don’t swat it.”

Bouffard and other bee experts from Round Rock Honey are regular guests at the Sweetwater Wildflower Festival, which takes place every spring. They enjoy being on hand to provide honey samples, offer demonstrations, and answer questions about bees and honey.

If you’d like to enjoy some Round Rock Honey right away, you can order online, or find them at stores and farmer’s markets throughout the Austin area. Since it began in 2009, the company has sold over one million jars of honey, and it offers related products such as its popular natural beeswax lip balm. It maintains more than 1,600 beehives throughout the Austin and Hill Country area – though we think the sweetest honey comes from Sweetwater.

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