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Bee Boxes.jpg

03 May . 2016

The buzz: Sweetwater sets up six community honeybee hives

On May 2nd, Sweetwater became abuzz with thousands of new “residents,” as the community installed six new honeybee hives.

Three hives are now located just behind the Sweetwater entrance. The other three are in a canyon off of Pedernales Summit Parkway.

The hives 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.

The hives are part of Sweetwater’s partnership with Round Rock Honey, which hosted one of the most popular booths at the Sweetwater Wildflower Festival on April 23. They offered honey samples, demonstrations of working with bees, and explained the new hives to residents who had already heard about them and were excited.

“Sweetwater is heaven for honeybees, with its natural creeks to provide all-important water, and more than 700 acres of natural open space,” said Konrad Bouffard, owner of Round Rock Honey. “Beyond its acres of wildflowers, Sweetwater offers many sources of nectar, including its many oak trees, persimmon trees and wild grapevines.”

At peak times, during late spring and early summer, the hives are expected to be 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.

“Honey from this 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.”

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.”

If you’d like to enjoy some Round Rock Honey, you can order online at www.roundrockhoney.com, or find them at stores and farmer’s markets throughout the Austin area.

Since it began in 2003, 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.