Queen Bee Art Teacher Raises Bees to Aid in Pollination

The low buzzing noise becomes louder as art teacher Ms. Amy Veselka approaches the large, white boxes at the back of her 6-acre property. Donned in a white bodysuit, Veselka shuts off the smoker she started earlier that day. She opens up the box and pulls out a frame congested with drowsy bees.

“I feel very strongly about keeping bees because it’s part of our agriculture,” Ms. Veselka said. “We cannot eat food if it’s not pollinated. [Bees] are really important and they do have a purpose.”

Ms. Veselka purchased a small plot of land in Burleson over two years ago. When she bought the property it was already AG exempt, which means the taxes are lower because the land has agricultural value. She decided to take advantage of that by raising bees.

The Veselkas have not started selling their honey, but hope to in the future to help bring in extra money.

“Our goal is to sell honey and expand because you can only have so many hives in one area due to the resources,” Veselka said. “The last two years we had the honey bees we had some droughts, and that affects the production of nectar.”

To start off a hive, a keeper must buy a nuke from a bee company that consists of a queen bee, nurse bees to take care of the larvae and worker bees. About 10,000 bees come in a nuke which costs about $200.

“It’s a learning curve. I have had to really educate myself on what all of the bees are doing because it is a cohesive group that works together,” Veselka said.

An aggressive queen lays eggs with aggressive genes and releases pheromones that make the surrounding hives more aggressive as well. Veselka has never been stung until recently.

“I took off my suit when I was really far away and [a bee] came out of nowhere and stung me on the neck,” Veselka said. “It wasn’t a big deal.”

The crops or plants in the surrounding areas of the bees determine the flavor of the honey. The Veselkas planted crops specifically for the bees and flavor of the honey, but they have plans for even more.

“I would like to grow more plants and get a greenhouse,” Veselka said. “Whatever nectar [the bees] are getting makes the honey taste a different way. So if its orange orchards you’re going to have an orange flavor. Cotton honey is thicker, but it’s sweet and very good.”

Story by Rebekah Ford and photos by Conner Riley