The tagline “balanced fitness in a busy world” is deliberately a little vague and open-ended. What I want to achieve with my health coaching, Asian bodywork, and fitness/wellness programming is wide ranging. One size most certainly does not fit all when it comes to health and wellness. A constant for me, though, is that I sincerely and with all my heart am an educator. I want to teach my clients now (and my patients, later, when I finish my TCM program) how to not need me. It sincerely matters to me that I am able to share what I know and love and pass it along. And a big part of what I teach involves ways of achieving a real balance in life; one crucial aspect of this the lesson is how to find wonderful resources to enrich one’s daily experiences. The little things add up!
A recent treasure that I found just by chance is the local beekeeping outfit of Tara Chapman, owner of Two Hives Honey. Recently, we sat down out on the patio in the warm and beautiful sunshine of a February day in Austin at Patika and we talked about bees, hives, and her philosophy of practice as a business owner. I left this interview feeling incredibly impressed by what she wants to teach and nurture and contribute. Tara is a small-town Texas girl who studied hard, ended up at Duke University and, post-graduation, in Washington, DC and later in conflict zones such as Afghanistan, where she did government work. This gave her quite a bit of insight into world issues, intercultural exchange, and interpersonal negotiations. Hard-working, intense people and challenging situations surrounded her and the work required brains, talent, and guts. These are qualities that Tara has clearly taken with her into her new direction. When I wrote to her and asked her if I might ask some questions, one of them was about her previous career and how it informed her current work. Her response, in part, noted that, “I think my years in and out of conflict zones helped me to develop a sort of grittiness and resiliency that no doubt helps me every day in the business.” After leaving her government position, Tara founded the local business Two Hives Honey and her primary purpose is not to sell honey but instead to propagate the passion for bees and beekeeping that is at the heart of her endeavor. Tara sells single-bee homes, she educates potential beekeepers and sets up hives, and she hosts beehive tours and other educational events for both adults and school children. She’s less interested in selling honey and much more interested in education and nurturance. If Tara can get more hives out and around in Austin, and if she can inspire and educate, and if she can get new hives going and teach new beekeepers not to need her, she will count herself a success in her role of founder and sole proprietor of Two Hives Honey.
What she also took from her previous job, though, is a genuine sense of appreciation for cooperation and peace. Tara, who has seen the opposite side of the coin, is definitely gratified when she sees a society that works together and, as I learned today, a hive of bees is a perfect example of what it means when we think of a truly cohesive, egalitarian society. Tara loves the bees and she explained that each one has a role to play in the successful maintenance of the hive: the queen bee lays eggs, the worker bees forage for food and do a range of things such as build and keep the hive clean, and drones (the males) fertilize the queen bee. In one of her written answers to my question about whether she liked insects in general (the answer was no), Tara wrote that, “when I see a bee out and about, I have a reaction similar to that of a child that sees a puppy. Interestingly, keeping bees has made me take notice of so many other tiny creatures I never before noticed. They have, unknowingly, given me an amazing gift of awareness of so many forms of life that I never had before.” I cannot do justice in a blog post to this woman’s passion for these small beings—if you get a chance, sign on for a beehive tour and experience the joy of listening to her talk in person. She explained to me how different hives have different personalities—some hives are mellow communities, while others tend to be more agitated and high energy—and she spoke with great feeling about the different kinds of bees there are here in Texas. I loved hearing what she had to say!
I found Two Hives Honey quite by chance; it may be that it popped up on the side of my Facebook feed because our business names are similar. I know I clicked on the link because I was charmed by the name of her business. Once I started looking into what she offered, though, I became interested in her raw material very quickly. From not really thinking about bees much, to being intrigued, to now being really taken by them, I can say that from my perspective, Tara really made the bees and their work come alive for me. And she says that there is in fact interest in bees and beekeeping in Austin but that a lot of people just don’t know how to take the next steps and get hives going. Thus, she explains, “After I started Two Hives, I saw a large audience that would be interested in bees and learning what they can do to help, but perhaps weren’t interested in pursuing beekeeping, a notoriously overwhelming hobby to start on your own. My mission evolved very quickly from ‘just’ a small honey company to one seeking to reach and educate a larger audience.” She did this, she says, by offering tours with hands-on activity to get people enthused. Next, she says, “Hive tours inspired my HoneyHomes program, which allows people to start the hobby of beekeeping with a bit of extra help along the way. It also resulted in my working with a local woodworker to build native bees homes.”
This is where things get especially interesting. Did you know that not all bees live in hives? Some types of bees are solitary (meaning they don’t live in hives) and those are the bees that are native to America; honey-producing hive bees are an introduced species that originated in Asia and spread to Europe and Africa before being brought to the Americas. The native bee is the solitary bee and these are the ones that do the most work to keep your garden beautiful. They are the hard-working pollen carriers, not the honeybees! And in her own words, Tara wrote, “I love to help teach folks that even if they can’t or aren’t interested in keeping honeybees, providing a habitat for our native bees is so easy and arguably more critical. I hope to continue to find unique ways to educate and inspire.” If a person doesn’t have the space, energy, or money to sustain the two hives of the business name in their backyard, a single bee home is a wonderful alternative. In this way, an individual can easily make a home for a useful, hardworking species. A full kit that makes a suitable home for a small number of solitary bees, which is for sale on her web site, is only $55.00. This is an accessible way to make bees a part of your backyard without the expense and size of a full hive.
I think that by now everyone has heard about the danger of bee extinction. I think we all kind of instinctively know that bees are important. But it is the little things that are truly important—and as far as this idea goes, it is worth noting that these tiny creatures are a microcosm of what a cohesive unit looks like and embodies. The importance of honey as a health food pales in comparison to the importance of the work that bees do to support the ecosystem. Bees are crucial in so many ways and, I learned, they are also wonderful, magical little creatures! Truly, I was charmed by Tara’s enthusiasm and I appreciated that she took an hour and a half to sit down and chat with me after writing out answers to the questions I sent her. One of my final questions to her was “Where do you get your energy?” She responded by saying that, “Even in my most draining days, what energizes me most is when my actions inspires others to engage and act to help support our pollinators. Nothing motivates me more than when I come across someone at an event or receive an email from someone that is inspired to take action that never before thought about bees. I’m inspired by their excitement.” In person, she told me how working with the bees is almost a meditation for her and she movingly described how the bees make the very best of whatever they have. They work, they work together, and they work hard.
My walk today was immeasurably enriched by what I learned from Tara about bees. Instead of looking only at birds and other larger beings, I noticed the bees, really noticed, for the first time, and felt an abiding respect and appreciation for them and for what they do.
If you are interested in a hive tour or in starting a small bee community in your backyard, do not hesitate to contact Tara at http://www.twohiveshoney.com and prepare yourself to fall in love with bees.
Two Hearts Wellness is a local holistic health and wellness outfit with a passion for all things nourishing, including but not limited to: joyful living, great food, art, and literature, and–of course–traditional Chinese medicine. If you want to learn more about me, click here and do feel free to follow my blog, connect with me on Facebook, or contact me here to set up a meeting for health coaching or personal training.
New: Two Hearts Asian bodywork therapy is now available by appointment on Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays at 2919 Manchaca Rd., Ste. 101 in Austin, TX 78741 (located inside Heather Gordon Spa and Wellness).