Honey Bee Apiary at R&B 1 Urban County Farm
Following National Pollinator Week, we are excited to highlight one of our latest projects: the Honey Bee Apiary at R&B 1 Urban County Farm! While the new apiary is not an official Dallas County Master Gardener project, the team is comprised of several local Master Gardeners from the R&B 1 Urban County Farm garden team.
We sat down with Dallas-based Master Gardener Jennifer Bowers to learn more about this exciting new project. Jennifer is a life-long outdoor and garden enthusiast. In 2020, she took her passion for plants and nature to the next level by completing the Texas Master Gardener program. Today, Jennifer is one of the project leaders for the honey bee apiary at R&B 1.
“I learn something new every day and have had a wonderful experience working with the dynamic teams at R&Bee 1!” – Jennifer Bowers
Honey Bee Apiary at R&B 1 – Q&A
PT: What is R&B 1 Urban County Farm?
JB: R&B 1 Urban County Farm is a Dallas County Master Gardener research, education, and demonstration garden. The garden uses Earth-Kind® methods to conserve and protect natural resources and the environment. It is situated on a 13-acre property owned by Dallas County.
PT: Tell us more about the R&B 1 Urban County Farm history.
JB: In 2018, the Dallas County Master Gardener Association began holding its MG certification training program here. At that time, they started a joint venture to develop the property as a Texas A&M AgriLife Research, Education & Development (RED) project. Because it was new, it provided a blank slate with open, undeveloped fields.
Since 2018, we have developed this property to include a donation farm, vineyard, orchard, berry patch, rose garden, and multiple pollinator gardens. In fact, today we are a certified Monarch Waystation, demonstration garden, worm farm, and most recently, an apiary.
PT: Why a honey bee apiary, and why now?
JB: The honey bee apiary and hives are new for R&B 1. Texas A&M AgriLife received two donated Flow hives a few years ago that were never built or deployed.
This Spring, a group of MGs learned of the hive boxes and requested permission to start a honey bee apiary. Of course, everyone welcomed the idea! We have a comprehensive program at R&B 1, and the apiary is a good complement to our growing project.
Lucky for us, our friend and PlantTAGG Founder & CEO Andrew Levi is a passionate beekeeper. He volunteered to be our bee mentor. To get started, he built the hive boxes (a very time-consuming task). Then, he located the bees we purchased, advised us on the needed gear, helped us find training resources, and has been present on nearly all hive-related activities. The honey bee apiary is off to a great start!
PT: Who is on the honey bee Apiary team?
JB: We built a designated team including 10 MGs plus Andrew. All team members are active volunteers at R&B 1 in various projects. We are currently not accepting new team members. However, we will offer training for anyone interested in learning more about honey bees or in starting their own hives. The sessions will cover honey bees, beekeeping, and other interesting educational topics.
PT: What’s the goal of the apiary program?
JB: Education is our ultimate goal. As you know, education is a hallmark and underlying premise of AgriLife and the Texas Master Gardener mission. Honey bees are incredibly intelligent, fascinating creatures. And, they are crucial to our food production.
Last year – our first production year at R&B 1 – our gardens produced over 4,000 pounds of food. We donated the food to feed hungry Dallas County citizens. While this is incredible, we hope to eclipse that number this year. Our bees will play a significant role in our ongoing and growing pollination needs and help the gardens thrive.
PT: Anything else you wish to share with our readers?
JB: As a research facility, we are recording data as our honey bee hives evolve. We started the apiary with bee packages. Using “packages” means we began as a “from the ground-up” hive growth project.
We are documenting the entire process with photos and video that will serve as a teaching mechanism. We plan to use this material in future papers and training classes as well. The R&B 1 honey bee apiary is an exciting new endeavor, and it’s sparking interest and conversation in our community!