A Hivestead Exemption

On a shelf full of smiling cartoon bees and jolly squeezable bears, a honey named “Satan’s Nectar” may sound a little extreme. Then again, reality TV star Jesse James, who produces Satan’s Nectar, isn’t your average honey-maker. He’s one of the landowners working with Central Texas Bee Rescue to give the endangered insect a fighting chance—and to save a little on taxes, to boot.

Central Texas Bee Rescue extracts beehives from places they’re not wanted and relocates them to donated land. That way, the bees get to live and the landowners get a tax write-off. Keeping bees on at least 5 acres of land in Texas counts as an agricultural exemption, so the savings add up. Walter Schumacher, founder of the nonprofit, says the bees on his 20 acres (the maximum allowable to write off) cuts his $16,000 in property taxes down to $3,000.

Under the organization’s co-op program, Schumacher has recruited nearly 60 people and businesses to give rescued beehives a new home, including hair-care billionaire John Paul DeJoria, who calls his honey “Peace, Love and Happiness” and musician Johnny Tequila, who calls his “Rockin’ G.” Circuit of the Americas racetrack adopted a whopping 157 hives and set them up as far away as possible from all the bug-whacking windshields (until heavy rains forced them to rebuild).

Central Texas Bee Rescue lets co-op members keep some of the honey (more if they help maintain the hives themselves) and sells the rest. Working on a pay-what-you-can-and-please-donate scale, the organization also sells a line of hive-derived beauty products at Central Market and other Austin-area stores. Schumacher sees the money from these sales as the means for an all-important species to pay the rent. “Our corporatized world is so economically driven that these creatures that don’t have any money can’t be here,” he says. “We’re stewards for them to help them raise the money they need to stay on this planet.”

—Steve Wilson

For more information, visit honeybeekind.com or call 512-914-0123.