S.A. bees find new homes in the city

On the rooftop of the Omni Hotel at the Colonnade, swarms of Texas bees work to pollinate the hotel’s garden and supply guests with delicious honey.

It may sound like the plot in a Pixar film, but non-profits like the Central Texas Honeybee Rescue are determined to make this a reality for underutilized urban spaces throughout the state.

Since 2014, the hotel has partnered with the Texas Honeybee Rescue and Vertical Growing Systems (VGS) to create a home for thousands of bees while creating vegetables, flowers, and honey for the area and the hotel’s restaurant.

L to R: John Swyers and Pat McNeal's Vertical Growing System allows plants to grow in small urban spaces with little soil needed.
L to R: John Swyers and Pat McNeal’s Vertical Growing System allows plants to grow in small urban spaces with little soil needed.

Texas Honeybee Rescue founder Walter Schumacher, has been developing rooftop spaces for years; Happy bees can be found at areas in Austin including the W Hotel, Barton Creek Country Club, and even the Circuit of the Americas.

According to Schumacher, these programs have actually helped reduce the number of stings per year. He hopes that his work will help the public better understand bees and why they are essential to the environment and produce in Texas.

“I wasn’t sure this would work at first, because what hotel is going to say ‘Yes, I’m going to let these freaks on my roof?'” Schumacher joked. “We haven’t save the world yet, but we’re here and we’re trying to save the world one sting at a time.”

He plans continue visiting the San Antonio hives at least once a week to make sure the bees are happy and healthy.

Walter Schumacher, the "bee czar" and founder of the Central Texas Honeybee Rescue is working to  relocate honeybees and prevent extinction.
Walter Schumacher, the “bee czar” and founder of the Central Texas Honeybee Rescue is working to relocate honeybees and prevent extinction.

Jeremy Lander, the director of sales and marketing at the Omni at the Colonnade said this was a great approach to saving Texas bees while giving back to the community.

“Our goal is to have as many of these rooftop gardens and hives as are allowed,” Lander said. “More places should have sustainable food, and The Omni is very forward thinking; We take pride in the symbiotic relationship we have with the bees.”

The Omni is looking to expand the honeybee and vertical garden program to their location on the Riverwalk in the coming months. Omni locations in Denver and Orlando have already incorporated similar programs in their hotels.

honeycombIn less than 60 days, the Omni at the Colonnade plans to have edibles and honey ready. The hotel’s chef, Sam Bolsjoly, plans to use the honey in several of his dishes at Bolo’s.

Saving the environment never tasted so good.

If you know of any bees who need rescue or relocation,  email Central Texas Honeybee Rescue at info@ahbpa.org

Culture Spoon

Freelance Writer and Photographer based in San Antonio, Texas

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