The Bee’s Needs

by Steve Wilson

When Milk + Honey founder Alissa Bayer learned of bee colonies collapsing the world over, she knew she could do more for the insects than just naming her spa after the sweet stuff they make. “The almond milk I buy for my kids often goes out of stock because the bees that pollinate the almond trees aren’t doing well,” she says. “I wanted to get as directly involved as I could to help.”

Because Bayer can’t drastically change the environmental causes or ban the suspected poisons that contribute to killing off bees, she hit on the next best thing: building beehives at Milk + Honey. When she proposed housing thousands of swarming, sting-y bees on the spa’s roof to her landlord, for some strange reason he didn’t call back. That wasn’t the only problem she faced: Bayer herself is allergic to bee venom. Fortunately, she had spa massage therapist Anna Gieselman at the ready. With the landlord’s eventual blessing, Gieselman, an expert beekeeper and owner of Bee Amour jewelry, set up four hives atop the Wright Bros. Brew and Brew near Fifth Street and I-35, and six more on a plot of borrowed land just off—you guessed it—Bee Cave Road.

Under Gieselman’s direction, a small group of Milk + Honey employees volunteer to maintain the hives. Trained in the art of indulgence, they give the bees the proverbial “spa treatment”—raising them organically without pest-controlling chemicals, and providing generous helpings of sugar water to help them through the dry spells. (The downtown bees have thrived near the river, but the Bee Cave bees have had a rougher go of it because of low rainfall.)

Bayer wants to add more hives down the road, but she’s in no hurry to sell the honey, use it in the spa or even give it away. “It depends on how much we can harvest later, but for right now, it’s their food, and they need it.”

Find out more at milkandhoneyspa.com or call 512-236-1115.