Backyard operation transforms Austin beekeeping community into statewide resource hub

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What started out as a hobby for owner Tanya Phillips to make lip balm, candles and lotion bars out of beeswax has grown into a one-stop shop for beekeeping, education, equipment and honey.

Bee Friendly Austin, a beekeeping education and equipment business in Southwest Austin, began six years ago after first operating as a small backyard apiary. Phillips and her husband, Chuck Reburn, became experts in the craft in hopes of educating the public on the benefits of honeybees and to save the species from colony collapses, which weaken and kill honeybees, she said.

Since its inception Phillips said Bee Friendly Austin has helped grow the local beekeeper community. The business offers hands-on beekeeping classes in the fall and spring in which students learn everything they need to know about being a beekeeper.

Phillips, who has a degree in education, became a master beekeeper through an online beekeeping program out of the University of Montana. Phillips said being well-educated is important to her and allows her to teach about beekeeping confidently.

Phillips also serves as a board member for the Texas Beekeepers Association and helped found Tour de Hives, an area fundraising event dedicated to helping bees, beekeepers, public education and bee research. Tour de Hives has helped thousands of visitors learn about the honeybee and see how beekeepers keep bees in their own backyards, she said.

“Becoming a beekeeper is important to keeping honeybees safe and alive,” Phillips said. “They are such fascinating creatures. When people come to my class, some can’t believe what [bees]can do.”

Moving forward, Phillips hopes to continue educating the community on the benefits of honeybees.

“There is so much to learn about bees,” Phillips said. “[Bees] are the only beings that do not [do]harm while on Earth. They are the most non-selfish being out there.”

Bee knowledgeable

Bee Friendly Austin owner Tanya Phillips said there are many benefits to owning a bee colony in one’s backyard, including pollination and producing honey.

  1. Providing bees a place to live helps sustain populations and production.
  2. Bees pollinate, or transfer pollen to plants, enabling fertilization in gardens and 1/3 of the foods people eat.
  3. Bees provide natural sugars, such as honey, that can be used for cooking in the kitchen at home.
  4. Beeswax can be used for homemade do-it-yourself products, such as candles, lip balms and moisturizers.

 

Bee Friendly Austin
9874 Weir Loop Circle, Austin
512-560-3732
www.beefriendlyaustin.com
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Sun. noon-4 p.m.

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