In the late afternoon of a warm May day, over 20,000 bees were carried 120 miles from San Antonio to their new home: the southwest corner of the Threshold field at Laity Lodge.
The bee installation is a collaboration between Grant Shellhouse, Laity Lodge’s hospitality manager, and the husband-and-wife duo of Lodge friends Larry Gilbert and Hilary Monford.
Larry is in the process of becoming a Master Beekeeper. In March, he visited the Lodge and took in the wildflower meadows. “Oh, this’ll be great!” he exclaimed. “The bees will love this.” He installed three swarm traps around the Lodge property with the hope of capturing a wild hive. As wild bees’ hives grow, they naturally scout and establish more hives. With the help of lemongrass oil and queen bee pheromone, the traps offer an enticing new home to wild swarms.
The wild bees have yet to show, but Larry has raised a colony especially for the Lodge. It was this colony that travelled with Hilary and Larry from San Antonio in May. Donning veils and suits, Larry and Hilary unloaded the sealed hive with the helping hands of Lodge staff and artist-in-residence Dana Tanamachi. The hive was vigorous—despite aromatic cedar smoke and beekeeping suits, the bees managed a few stings. Larry promised that this was a good sign.
While honey may be an alluring byproduct, the primary purpose of this hive is to produce more bees. Bees travel up to six miles, and as participants in the Canyon’s interconnected ecosystem, these bees will work alongside native pollinators to perpetuate flowering plants.
Today, large, bright orange balls of pollen on the bees’ hind legs is evidence that this process has begun. Hilary confirms: “They look great! They are bringing lots of pollen and are flourishing.” As the bees establish themselves, there’s a good chance that Lodge guests will soon partake of some very local honey.
Video by Hayden Hyde
Photos by Wendi Poole