Thank you, Tara, for inviting me out to see your new hive tours at Texas Keeper Cidery! It was awesome seeing Two Hives Honey in action. While I did receive a free tour ticket, all opinions are my own.
Just south of the big city is a little compound called Texas Keeper Cidery. It’s a wonderful space which includes Texas Keeper Cider, the Puli-Ra food truck, and Two Hives Honey. They have one main building that has a cider bar, interior sitting space (with live music) and a gathering space for the Two Hives Honey tours.
I was here to take one of Two Hives Honey hive tours! Before the tour even starts, you’re gifted a naan croissant from Puli-Ra. It has unique flavors and I devoured every last bite of it. I wish I had looked at their menu before leaving to order some more food! They have a Kashmiri potato gnocchi. I love gnocchi! It was just SO hot the day I went out there.
You also get a free drink ticket to try the Texas Keeper Cider. I’m a huge Hefeweizen fan, so I tried their “cider-weizen”. I didn’t think I really liked cider, but I loved their cider-weizen! They have various seasonal drinks as well. I heard their new August Cerise cider, double-fermented cider with two heirloom varieties of sour cherry, is amazing!
Before going out to look at the hives, we sat inside and learned all about the bees we’d be seeing. Tara, the owner and founder of Two Hives Honey, lead the tour and she gave us SO MUCH BEE INFO. It wasn’t overwhelming but instead, lead to a much more informed tour of the hives. Here are a few of the highlights:
- Honey bees have been around for 130 million years. Plants and bees have evolved to mutually benefit each other. Beekeeping is an ancient profession – Egyptians participated in “honey robbing.” Basically, they’d pull the honey out and run. Eventually, they started keeping bees in clay pots and baskets. They learned to use smoke to protect themselves, just like beekeepers today.
- We talked about three types of bees – queen, drone, and worker bees. Queens’ only job is to lay eggs. There is only one queen in a hive and they use their stingers to sting and kill one another if there is more than one. Drones (males) actually die after they mate because, after mating, the queen flies away and pulls the male bees reproductive organs and intestines with her! Crazy! It actually makes an audible popping sound the human ear can hear. The drone bees’ one job is to mate with the queen. The females in the hive do ALL the jobs in the hive. Not every bee does every job, but all the workers are females.
- The hive actually determines whether the queen lays male or female eggs. When the queen sees smaller hexagons, she lays smaller, fertilized female eggs. When the queen sees larger hexagons, she lays larger, nonfertilized male eggs.
- Finally, we discussed how an egg becomes a bee.
All of that earlier information was very helpful when looking at the hive. We saw the queen and all the female worker bees. We even saw bees being “born” and chewing their way out of the hexagons. The outdoor experience as a whole was pretty incredible. Tara very freely passed around frames of bees and honey to everyone. It made me a little nervous to be so close to so many bees, but she assured us the “bees were very chill.” We all trusted her! She used smoke to get inside each of the hives. When bees feel threatened, they send out an alert pheromone to tell the other bees of the intruder. Smoke masks that pheromone, allowing us to safely get into the hive. Tara talked us through everything we were seeing – the different bees, the different stages of honey production, and she even pointed out a few bees being born. It was such a unique experience. I’d never done or seen anything like it!
You’re encouraged to wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts with close-toed shoes. In addition, we all got protective gear to wear. At the end, Tara scooped out a sample of honey straight from the hive!
Two Hives Honey is having their birthday party at their 702 Bastrop Hwy location next Saturday, the 22nd. It should be a blast, with honey tasting, beer, mead, live music, and more.
Tara is a perfect example of a small beekeeper doing things the right way (ethically and sustainably). I will definitely continue to buy her honey, take her tours, and support her business however possible. I highly recommend you do the same!
You can purchase Two Hives Honey online at their shop, or in person at these locations, including their new storefront at 720 Bastrop Hwy. You can also purchase honey when you take a tour! My favorite is the comb honey. I like the texture of the waxy honeycomb mixed in with peanut butter on toast. Delicious! There’s also just regular raw honey (perfect for tea) or chunk honey (a combination of comb honey and regular raw honey.
Want to take your own hive tour? Of course you do!
“Come for the bees, stick around for the beautiful Texas scenery, refreshing drinks, and delicious and locally-sourced food.”
Hive Tours! 6+ Family Tour or 21+ Tour w/ drink ticket
Time: 1.5 hours
Location: 12521 Twin Creeks Road, Manchaca, TX 78652
Purchase Tickets: https://www.twohiveshoney.com/hive-tours/
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