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Bee-ing Grateful for Bees

An Inspiring Interview with Tanya Phillips of Texas Honey Bee Farm located in Austin, Texas

It is time to give thanks for all the little things in life - like bees! These hardworking creatures bring sweetness to our lives and ensure that our crops are pollinated. Without them, our Thanksgiving feast would be very different. I sat down with Tanya Phillips, a local beekeeper and owner of the Texas Honey Bee Farm to learn more about these powerful creatures and her mission to educate adults and children about the importance of bees.

MW: How did Texas Honey Bee Farm begin? 
TP: My journey into beekeeping began in 2011. It started from a simple curiosity about bees and beekeeping, I just thought bees were very interesting. As I started studying them in depth and taking a master beekeeper course, I really began to understand how important their role is in our food supply chain. I quickly realized that there weren’t a lot of local resources in the Austin area to learn about bees and buy supplies, so it was a natural progression to begin teaching classes on beekeeping.

MW: What is one of the greatest benefits to buying local honey? 
TP: There are two sides to this: one is getting a special raw food that is antimicrobial and antibacterial, which thousands of customers have told me helps them with seasonal allergies. The other is knowing when you buy it direct from the beekeeper, you are helping support their hard work. Beekeepers lose 10-30% of their colonies every year, and then make splits from their stronger hives to replenish their colonies.

MW: Besides eating it, what are some of your favorite ways to use honey? 
TP: Honey is fun in lip balm, soap, face masks, and other skin care items, but it's difficult to work with like that because it's hard to emulsify it into the product. It separates quickly. My favorite way to eat it is fresh honey still in the honeycomb with a slice of apple, cheese, and a berry on top! It's so delicious!

MW: What are the most pressing threats to honey bees and what can we do to help? 
TP: I would say that urban sprawl is a big threat, but it can be helped by planting a lot of flowers that bees need for both nectar and pollen. Bees need flowers that grow at all times of the year, too, not just in the spring.

MW: Why are you grateful for honey bees, and is there anything else you’d like to share?
I'm grateful that honey bees are natural hoarders and they work tirelessly to collect lots of nectar and pollen on every possible day they can fly. Pollination of our fruits and vegetables is a byproduct of their foraging and I LOVE fruits and vegetables! One bee collects 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime of foraging and flies approximately 500 miles before their wings wear out and they can't fly any more. The worker bees are all females and they literally work themselves to death to ensure the survival of their colony!

So as we enjoy our holiday feasts this Thanksgiving, let's remember the bees. They pollinate our crops and make our bountiful meals possible. Learn more at