Beekeepers in Tomball, Magnolia area say freeze effects were mixed

After five days of freezing weather in early 2021, beekeepers in the Tomball and Magnolia areas said the effect on their populations was mixed despite survey data showing a decline in honeybee colonies.
After five days of freezing weather in early 2021, beekeepers in the Tomball and Magnolia areas said the effect on their populations was mixed despite survey data showing a decline in honeybee colonies.

After five days of freezing weather in early 2021, beekeepers in the Tomball and Magnolia areas said the effect on their populations was mixed despite survey data showing a decline in honeybee colonies.

After five days of freezing weather in early 2021, beekeepers in the Tomball and Magnolia areas said the effect on their populations was mixed despite survey data showing a decline in honeybee colonies.

A survey by the national nonprofit Bee Informed Partnership reported record-high colony losses statewide for the 2020-2021 season, which ran from March 2020 to April 2021. The Woodlands-based beekeeper Lisa Miller, a former Montgomery County Beekeepers Association board member, told Community Impact Newspaper the freeze hit her hives hard.

“The weather this year was really hard on bees,” Miller said. “Talking to local beekeepers, some of them lost 25% to 50% of their hives from that freeze. And the other problem after the freeze was that it affected a lot of the spring flowering plants.”

However, Michael Hardman, the founder of Spicy Fly Honey Bees in Tomball, said he did not experience the same losses. Additionally, Hardman said he did not take any special precautions for his bees.

“When the first freeze reports came in, I looked at [the hives] and said, ‘Good luck, guys,’” Hardman said. “And we came out of it pretty well.”


Hardman said his bees did not have trouble finding food either because they rely on the Chinese tallow tree for nectar. The tree, which is classified as an invasive species by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, can withstand cold temperatures and is attractive to honeybees.

Hardman also left enough honey in his beehives for the insects to survive, a strategy that fellow Tomball-based apiary BZ Honey relied on to maintain its populations.

In a Facebook message, BZ Honey said it left a “larger than normal” amount of honey stored, leading to its populations largely remaining intact.

However, food shortages did hit the BeeWeaver Honey Farm in Navasota, located north of Magnolia.

Co-owner Laura Weaver said although 80% of its colonies survived, the bees were too cold to be properly productive. A chilly April and a rainy May also meant BeeWeaver’s queen bees did not have good flying weather to mate, further affecting their populations.

“We were having to buy food for them because the rain and cold made it so that what flowers they could find weren’t giving them any nectar,” Weaver said. “It was a rough season.”
By Jishnu Nair

Reporter, North Houston Metro

Jishnu joined Community Impact Newspaper as a metro reporter in July 2021. Previously, he worked as a digital producer for a television station in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and studied at Syracuse University's Newhouse School. Originally from New Jersey, Jishnu covers the North Houston metro area, including Tomball, Magnolia, Conroe and Montgomery, as well as the Woodlands and Lake Houston areas.

By Ally Bolender

Reporter, The Woodlands

Ally joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in May 2021 after graduating with a degree in journalism from Texas State University. Ally covers education, local government, transportation, business, and real estate development in The Woodlands. Prior to CI, Ally served as news content manager of KTSW FM-89.9 in San Marcos, Texas.



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