Erika Thompson is the founder and owner of Texas Beeworks. As a child, she was fascinated with insects and spent nights and weekends collecting every bug she could find.
“I was a big animal lover and lobbied hard for anything from a hamster to a puppy, but my mom wouldn’t let me have pets,” she said. “I spent a lot of time in my backyard collecting bugs and putting them in jars instead. That didn’t always work out too well, but it led to a lifelong fascination with insects.”
Erika grew up, went off to college and started a professional career in marketing and communications. But she never lost her interest in bugs.
“About ten years ago I saw the opportunity to take a beekeeping class, and I took it with absolutely no intention of becoming a beekeeper. I walked away just fascinated with everything I learned and wanted to learn more. I read books, watched videos online and decided to start my first hive the following spring. As my obsession grew, so did my hive count.”
At the time she lived in a small house in central Austin with a tiny backyard, which was not conducive to multiple hives. A friend offered her some space on their land for more hives, which provided an opportunity to turn her obsession into a side gig. She started Texas Beeworks in 2014 while still working full-time. In 2019, she quit her office job to focus on her fledgling business.
“I feel very fortunate to have found something that I truly love to do so early in my life. To be able to say I’m a full-time professional beekeeper is just the greatest gift. It has completely changed my life and the way that I look at the world.”
The mission of Texas Beeworks is to preserve, protect, and increase bee populations across the Lone Star State by helping bees and beekeepers thrive. Texas Beeworks supports the health and wellness of honeybees by offering live bee removals, hive hosting opportunities for individuals and businesses, beekeeping classes and more. There’s a growing interest in bees and beekeeping, helped along by the Texas Legislature in 2011, when they added beehives to the list of agricultural valuations for Texas landowners.
“That’s how I started my business was by keeping bees for other people. This ag valuation opportunity is a good thing for landowners, it’s great for beekeepers, but what I really want people to know is that it is amazing for bees. There are more bees all across Texas than ever before because of this. And that’s good for all of us.”
Erika takes care of 50 beehives at her home in Elgin and keeps an eye on another 100 hives across five counties in central Texas.
“In general, I like to let the bees do their own thing. I listen to the bees and they tell me what they need when I go into a hive. And if I see something amiss, or if there’s a problem in the hive, I try to think about what can I give the bees to solve this problem on their own, versus what can I do to solve this problem? It’s up to the bees to do what they’re going to do naturally. And I just want them to be healthy and happy, so they have all the resources they need to live good lives.”
Erika’s efforts to advocate for bees and pollinators have been featured worldwide through a variety of media outlets and social media. She wants to get the message across that we can all do something to help.
“Bees are suffering from environmental changes that a lot of other creatures are suffering from. First and foremost is habitat loss. And if there’s anything folks can do to help save the bees, it’s to plant more pollinator-friendly plants. When you plant your backyard garden, make sure it’s something that can be a food source for honeybees, for native bees, or other pollinators like butterflies and hummingbirds.”
Erika is thrilled to join the ranks of Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation’s We Will Not Be Tamed ambassadors. We Will Not Be Tamed calls us to appreciate the wildness of Texas, the vastness of our Texas spirit and why we should be inspired to conserve it.
“I am a proud Texan. I love Texas. It’s been my home my entire life, and I will do whatever I can to help preserve and protect the wild species, the wildlife, the wild places, and the habitats of Texas not only for future generations of people but also future generations of bees.”
You can follow Erika’s beekeeping adventures on Instagram @texasbeeworks.