After years of marketing other people’s brands, Nicole Buergers of Houston Dairymaids is buzzing about a biz of her very own. What began three years ago as a backyard hobby (and before that a lifelong fascination) has now taken flight as a full-fledged beekeeping service. The former B2B internet marketer’s venture, aptly named Bee2Bee Honey Collective, is the first of its kind in Houston.
“The goal is to place beehives in backyards, on rooftops and on businesses throughout the Houston metro area,” explains Buergers in her IndieGogo campaign. “I’m looking for people and places interested in keeping bees."
Likening her services to a landscaper or pool cleaner, Buergers installs and maintains beehives for clients who seek the benefits of hosting honeybees on their property; as pollinators, bees help gardens, farms and flower beds thrive. Then there’s the obvious perk come harvest time of enjoying that sweet, sweet nectar.
Bee2Bee’s business model is twofold. The beekeeping service is a one-woman operation (with plenty of inspiration and support from family and friends), but Buergers has also built an online marketplace where fellow keepers can join her in selling local honey.
The emphasis on sourcing locally is a bit tired—and there are many factors to consider when seeking wholesome, sustainable ingredients—but knowing your beekeeper and where your honey comes from should definitely be a priority, Buergers insists. “Three quarters of honey at the grocery store is ultra-filtered and contains zero pollen,” she explains, referencing the commercial practices that strip honey of its natural benefits.
Despite what you might think, honey produced through urban beekeeping is actually “cleaner,” as urban gardens tend to be treated with fewer pesticides. Meanwhile, a diversity of plants in cityscapes yields more honey, Buergers explains. Plus, she says, “honey is the ultimate in terroir, that is, the best expression of local flavor you can have."
In the case of Bee2Bee, we’re talking hyper-local. As in, Buergers sources her honeybees from R Weaver Apiaries in Navasota. As in, honey literally flowing from your own backyard, or your neighbor’s. As in, check the online map and select your honey by ‘hood. Right now, choose from honey raised near George Bush Park that boasts a dark amber hue and smacks of molasses or a more medium-bodied variety from Buergers’ own East End hives that she suggests pairing with aged cheese or ice cream.
Just as cool as Bee2Bee’s efforts to promote urban beekeeping and education is Buergers' communal approach to the project. After a couple years keeping her hive on rental property, a landscaper unaware of the benefits of bees asked that they be relocated. Seeking a new home for her brood, Buergers turned to small-scale urban farm friend, Rebecca Verm, the hardworking gal behind Sown & Grown who connected her to Houston Makerspace, where Verm is also the resident farmer. Since last June, both Buergers and the bees have found a happy home at Makerspace, which has become her beekeeping headquarters.
Most of the incentive gifts for funding the Bee2Bee IndieGogo campaign will be created at the craft warehouse in East Downtown, from screen-printed tees and wooden honey dippers to Sown & Grown seedlings and a honey vial necklace. Soon, Buergers will offer classes for “wannabeekeepers” and kid-friendly classes to teach that bees are our friends.