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Beehives Atop The Omni Colonnade Rooftop Are Set To Earn Their Keep

Ryan Loyd
TPR News

Back in September, Walter Schumacher with the American Honeybee Protection Agency, from Austin, removed 150,000 bees from Norma Ramon's near North West side attic.

He collected them and gave them time to heal. When bees are removed, their painstaking work is ruined because the hive is broken.

Now that they are back in shape, they have a new job on top of the Omni Hotel's convention center. They'll provide honey to the hotel and its guests while pollinating local plants.

Jeremy Lander is the Omni's Director of Sales and Marketing.

“There’s one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10 hives," he said as he counted. "So we'll be doubling that in the spring to get to 250,000 bees total. All of the plants that you see now in the 40 gallon potted buckets, will be basically leading a path out to the corner of the roof over here, where the bees will go out and search for pollen. So we’re almost creating a super highway of organic vegetables and produce that the bees will be pollinating on their way out and on their way back, and we'll be enjoying the fruits of their labors.”

Lander took us to the spot where the bees will live. Thursday, they were nestled comfortably inside 10 boxes before their release Friday. Lander is clearly excited about this opportunity to mix Mother Nature with modern amenities.

“This is just one area that we can help make an effect [sic] on the type of products that we bring into the hotel to serve to our guests," he said. "We're able to tell a story about the property, and really keep it local, and support that farm to table movement, which is not always the easiest thing to do in the city.”

The bees are expected to produce 2,000 pounds of honey each year, which Chef Sam Boisjoly says will give his team a creative outlet.

"The concept of having something where we’re not only helping the environment, but it’s a statement for us in culinary....we're excited,” he said inside his kitchen.

The Omni is a corporate partner with the Honeybee Protection Agency, with an Austin Omni property already reporting a successful beehive program of their own.

Ryan Loyd was Texas Public Radio's city beat and political reporter. He left the organization in December, 2014.