New tax code changes give beekeepers a break
SAN ANTONIO — The Texas AgriLife Extension Service in Bexar County will host a Beekeeping Basics program from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. on May 18 in Suite 208 of its offices at Conroy Square, 3355 Cherry Ridge Drive, San Antonio.
The program is presented by AgriLife Extension, the Bexar County Master Gardeners and beekeepers Mike and Travis Cole, members of the Alamo Area Beekeepers Association.
“This is for anyone interested in learning about beekeeping and how to begin a beehive as a hobby or for environmental stewardship or enhancing plant pollination,” said Molly Keck, AgriLife Extension entomologist in Bexar County and program coordinator.
Keck said the program is targeted at first-time or novice beekeepers and will address topics such as basic bee biology, beekeeping laws and regulations, and bee viruses and diseases.
“Bees are extremely important for agriculture and horticulture due to their role in pollination,” said David Rodriguez, AgriLife Extension agent for horticulture in Bexar County, one of the program presenters. “Bee populations throughout the U.S. have been steadily declining, and this will continue to have a negative impact on both agricultural and green industries.”
Rodriguez said he hopes the program will build interest in beekeeping and inspire people to start their own hive or colony to help rebuild the Texas bee population.
The state’s tax code was recently amended to include “the use of land to raise or keep bees for pollination or for the production of human food or other tangible products having a commercial value,” provided that the land used is not less than five or more than 20 acres, said Bryan Davis, AgriLife Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources in Bexar County.
“The change in the tax code defining beekeeping as an agricultural-use enterprise in Texas open-space land appraisals has generated a lot of interest,” Davis said. “This should provide an additional incentive to people interested in beekeeping who have that amount of land and intend to keep bees for one or both of the purposes required.”
“We’ve got about five hives right now and have had as many as eight,” said Mike Cole, a program presenter and 15-plus year member of the Alamo Area Beekeepers Association. Cole’s wife Patrice and son Travis are also avid beekeepers.
“It’s mainly a hobby, but we also collect and eat our own honey and share it with others,” he said. “All of us have a passion for beekeeping.”
Cole said he would bring bee frames and beekeeping equipment to the program and demonstrate how to extract honey.
“I’ll also be letting people know about local, state and national beekeeper associations as a source of information and guidance for anyone interested in getting started,” he said.
As an optional part of the program, a field trip on the morning of May 19 will be offered for participants interested in viewing some area beekeepers’ hives.
“A bee veil may be required for this portion of the program, and we also recommend those participating wear long pants and a lightweight long-sleeve shirt,” Keck said.
Keck added that program space is limited and open only to the first 30 paid registrants, and registration forms may be obtained from the AgriLife Extension office in the Conroy Square office complex on the city’s northwest side.
The program cost is $50, and includes snacks and lunch. Checks should be made payable to Bexar County Master Gardeners, with checks and completed registration forms mailed to: Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Attn: Molly Keck, 3355 Cherry Ridge Drive, Suite 212, San Antonio, Texas 78230.
For more information, contact Keck at 210-467-6575 or firstname.lastname@example.org.