Tribeza Bees spread 1.jpg

The Beekeeper

It’s a warm, sunny morning in Austin’s North Loop neighborhood and Tara Chapman is happy to be outside. As the owner of a small business, much of Chapman’s work life is spent in front of a computer managing her company. Every three weeks, however, her job gets much more interesting, or terrifying, depending on how you feel about bees.

Chapman is the owner of Two Hives Honey, a small beekeeping company. Chapman not only sells honey, she helps people start and manage their own beehives, gives hive tours and teaches beekeeping classes. “When I do things where I get to tell someone or show someone something cool about bees and they get excited, that’s really energizing,” Chapman says. “Even people who seem disinterested, I’m like, ‘Give me two minutes,’” Chapman tells me as we sit near three of her beehives. “It’s like a real life Game of Thrones in a colony! People can’t help but be fascinated at it.”

  • Tribeza Bees spread 9.jpg
  • Tribeza Bees spread 10.jpg
  • Tribeza Bees Spread 4-film.jpg

Before entering a beehive, Chapman must light a small fire inside a smoker. The smoke interferes with the pheromones that guard bees release to alert other bees of danger and it allows Chapman to check on her colonies without getting attacked. The smoker is a small tin can with a spout and a bellow, which Chapman squeezes to sustain the fire. With every squeeze, the air fills with the smell of smoke. (Chapman says she’s gotten used to smelling like a barbecue.)

Tribeza Bees Spread 5-film.jpg

Once she has a steady trail of smoke around the hive, Chapman puts on gloves and a mesh bee veil to protect her face and neck. She’s used to wearing a veil to work. Before she was a beekeeper, Chapman spent almost 10 years in and out of Pakistan and Afghanistan working for the CIA and often had to wear a hijab. “I’ve just traded one type of protective gear for another,” she says.

Tribeza Bees spread 3.jpg
Tribeza Bees spread 8.jpg

Inside the hive, there are five wooden frames side by side. Thousands of bees have made honeycomb in each frame. As she slowly pulls out each frame most bees stay on the comb covering the entire frame. Chapman immediately tries to find the Queen bee. It’s like playing Where’s Waldo, except the Queen isn’t wearing a distinctive red and white striped shirt, so the process can be very time consuming depending on the size of the hive. Chapman sees the Queen has laid some small, white rice-shaped eggs in the honeycomb. Since eggs take three days to hatch, she knows the Queen has been there recently.

Next, she observes the combs, which are all different colors. The newer comb is fresh and white and the small hexagon shaped holes are empty. When the bees make honey, which happens in the spring and fall, Chapman will take that honeycomb out of the frame, cut it into pieces and sell it.

  • Tribeza Bees Spread 7-film.jpg
  • Tribeza Bees Spread 6-film.jpg

In other frames, the comb is dark brown and covered. Right now, the Queen is laying eggs so there are enough bees to build and clean the hive and gather pollen for the spring. (The average lifespan of a bee is 46 days.) When the eggs hatch, the bees cover the holes and a new bee eventually emerges.

While the bees in the first two hives are relatively calm, the bees in the third hive aren’t happy with Chapman’s presence and they let her know that. When bees are angry, their buzzing is audible. The sound fills the air as they angrily fly around her head. Chapman gets stung about a dozen times, but she barely reacts. When a hive gets ornery like this one, Chapman has to kill the Queen bee and introduce a new one to the hive, a process that can take a few days.

The bees will continue to forage throughout the summer and make honey again in the fall so they have enough food. After all, winter is coming.

CREDITS

Photographs by Matt Rainwaters | Shot at Farmshare Austin

RELATED ARTICLES

  • 0f8dfbf1-b6d6-4c56-b842-05d45acda39c.gif
  • image1.JPG
  • Elite 25_300x250.gif
  • unnamed-37.jpg
  • Copenhagen_Feb2015.jpg

SIGN UP FOR OUR WEEKLY

eNewsletter

currentIssue.png
June_Cover-108x108.jpeg
  • 1cb151d1-621d-47f9-941e-7259eea04612.gif
  • Subscribe.jpg
TRIBEZA BLOGS
Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 2.07.04 PM.png

As the warm weather begins to set in and patio parties hit our calendars, we can’t help but embrace that summertime has returned to Austin. If you’re anything like us, you’ll be celebrating the return of the season with decadent ice cream, healthy smoothies and icy cocktails from your favorite local spots.

For those days when it’s too hot to venture out, we went to Austin’s sweet treat professionals and compiled the ultimate collection of DIY recipes to make from your home. Click through the galleries below to learn how to make everything icy and sweet, from poptails for date night to ice cream sandwiches for a dinner party.

more
unnamed.jpg

The spring edition of the Renegade Craft Fair returns for its seventh year in Austin May 14-15 at Fair Market. With over 125 makers on the roster, the scene is sure to be bustling with local artisans and DIYers slinging their unique, one-of-a-kind wares. In addition to great shopping, the RCF offers activities, special showcases and plenty of food and drink options for visitors. This year, celebrate your hard work shopping with a snack from Burro Cheese Kitchen and Lucky Lab Coffee Co. before commemorating the afternoon with some snapshots from Magnolia Photo Booth Co. But before...

more
TRIBEZA04.jpg

Inspired by the beautiful outdoor living spaces featured in our May feature The Space Between, we went window shopping and found some great outdoor furniture and accessories to liven up your outdoor patio, porch and pool. Flip through the galleries below to see how you can add a pop of color and style to your outdoor hideaway.

more
6cac5c5a8c8ab233e90140848463bee7-d1026fbadb4e268d7fc0f385121f57a3.jpg

JUDE GALLIGAN

Hundreds of people are moving to Austin each day, and downtown is one of the major hubs of growth for the city. Local real estate expert Jude Galligan discusses smart urban growth and what to expect this year as the skyline continues to evolve.

Your blog keeps Austin updated on the latest news in downtown. What is the most exciting development happening right now?

From my point of view, the most exciting development is the Waller Creek District Master Plan. Decades in the making, this transformative project came to life after designers competed for the contract. It is finally coming to downtown, bringing an imaginative chain of parks,...

more
IMG_4713.jpg

As you flip through the pages of our February Love Issue, one thing you’ll notice is the beautiful blooms that pop up throughout the magazine. We got some major googly eyes for the bouquets featured in our "Real Weddings" features, and earmarked the TRIBEZA Wedding Guide for even more Pinterest-worthy petals.

Instead of letting all that inspiration go to waste, we tried our hand at flower arranging to see what we could create. Since we consider ourselves floral design novices, we asked a few top designers...

more