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Van Alstyne bee keeper relocates swarm, brings to bee farm for honey harvest season

Published: Apr. 27, 2021 at 9:28 PM CDT
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VAN ALSTYNE, Texas (KXII) - Gene Downing relocated a swarm of honey bees from a tree in a person’s dog run in east Van Alstyne and brought them to his bee farm to join the other nearly 25 hives, and queen mating nooks he has on his property.

“It’s a very entertaining hobby and it’s rewarding too because we need to save the honey bees for sure,” Downing said.

Downing said the group he captured from the tree, along with other clusters that might pop up across the Texoma area are “homeless bees.”

“They hang out there for awhile, they look for a new home and as soon as they find one they’ll move off and into that home,” Downing said.

His honey bee farm is made up of swarms he “acquired somewhere else or that we got from other swarms.”

“What they’re looking for is an empty, dark place to move into,” Downing said. “”We try to get these swarms into a good home and not into your home.”

Downing and his wife will wait to harvest and sell the honey the bees produce at local Texoma markets by the middle of July.

“A lot of people like the local honey because they say it helps with allergies, it’s got the local pollen in it, so it’s a big deal for a lot of people,” Downing said.

Downing said he originally got into the bee keeping business for the agriculture exemption to lower his property taxes but soon found out how big the local honey market is in Texoma.

Downing said the north Texas honey season runs from May to the middle of July, around the time he harvests it, bottles it and puts it out on the market.

“We were sold out about August or September,” Downing said. “There’s some bigger operations around that mass produce honey in our area but for the local, small hobbiest honey bee farmer honey goes pretty fast in our area.”

He siad he does bi-weekly check ups on the hives to make sure they still have the queen bees.

“It really grows on you, there’s a lot of really neat things that happen inside the hives,” Downing said. “You can see the queen, you can see their babies, the eggs, the larva.”

Much like the swarm he relocated from Van Alstyne Downing says he’s willing to take easily accessible swarms of bees off people’s hands and relocate them to his bee keeping farm.

But he said if the swarms get into your house, don’t call him, call a bee removal service.

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