San Marcos outlet mall gives honey bees new hive

Some new workers just got hired at the Tanger Outlets San Marcos. On Thursday, their supervisors, Anna Poholek and Matthew Sato, checked in to see how the "ladies" were doing.

"Harvest season is coming up so this inspection today was really to see if they are ready for harvest," said Sato. 

The "ladies" are female honeybees and their hive has been placed on the roof thanks to a partnership with Sato and Poholek’s company, Alvéole. 

"We’re using basically unused space, whether that’s rooftop or like a corner of a parking garage that isn’t being used," said Sato.

Beyond caring for the bees, they’ll host hands-on workshops to help educate the public.

"It’s all about connecting with the community and connecting with the environment," said Allison Murphy, marketing director for Tanger Outlets San Marcos.

Studies show the honeybee and wild bee populations have declined in recent years. Reasons include changing land use patterns and loss of pollinator habitat.

"And then on top of that, you have pesticide use," said Dr. Jo Holley, who works in the Department of Integrative Biology at UT Austin’s College of Natural Sciences. "So you have pesticide use agriculturally but even in urban environments to get rid of mosquitoes, so you are going to have non-target effects and kill native bees as well."

The 2021 Winter Storm Uri may have had an impact as well as bees don’t fare well in the cold.

According to the FDA, about one-third of food eaten by Americans comes from crops that are pollinated by honeybees. But it goes beyond the dinner table.

"Ecosystems are big, complicated environments that are interconnected, and pollination is such a key component to that," said Dr. Holley. "If you don't have pollinators, you start losing the plants."

In San Marcos, they’re hoping to help one hive at a time.

"One of our missions with the company is to change the urban landscape and by installing hives all around Austin, Texas, we’re trying to do that," said Poholek.

Follow Tanger Outlets San Marcos on Facebook and Instagram to learn about upcoming workshops.