The Buzz About Urban Bees

Gardener raises urban bees

There's a buzz in the gardening community about a new tool to help make your urban gardens explode with fruits and flowers.

The tool? Bees.

Beekeeping clubs in Dallas and Collin County are popping up to help newbies get started.

Leslie Halleck has two hives in the backyard of her East Dallas home with 180,000 bees. In turn, the flowers, fruits and veggies in her garden get pollinated, producing more crops.

"You need pollinators," she said. "You need the bees to come along and pollinate the flowers so you get more tomatoes, more peaches, more cucumbers."

Halleck said the bees can help pollinate a four-mile radius.

But she said she wants people to know her insects are calm, docile bees. They're an Italian species that's known for working hard. And the colony is only as calm as the queen bee. Halleck said if the queen bee releases pheromones to calm the bees down, they are pretty mellow.

"The bees that are flying, they're going out and collecting pollen, and they come back and
deliver it to the hive," Halleck said.

The hobby isn't cheap and requires patience. Halleck said she studied for five months before taking on her two hives. She also invested in beekeeping suits and a hand smoker.

When the smoke is dispersed into the hive, the bees get defensive and immediately head to the honeycombs to eat honey, she said. Basically, it's a diversion tactic.

Halleck said the smoke is used to collect the honey. Each hive can produce about five gallons of honey per year.

"You really get to learn the life cycle and learn everything that goes on in a hive," she said. "You benefit in your garden and you get to harvest honey. It's a really rewarding process."

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