Urban Bees Keep Dallas in Zip Code Honey

From rooftops to abandoned football fields, Brandon and Susan Pollard make sure their city of Dallas, Texas, remains a vibrant metropolis by keeping the cities bees buzzing.

| April 2016

When Forrest Pritchard went looking for the unsung heroes of local, sustainable food, he found them at 18 exceptional farms all over the country. With more than 50 mouthwatering recipes and over 250 photographs, Growing Tomorrow (The Experiment, 2015) is a unique cookbook that captures the struggles and triumphs of these visionary farmers. 

You can purchase this book in the Capper’s Farmer store: Growing Tomorrow.

Zip Code Honey

It’s afternoon rush hour in downtown Dallas, Texas, and several stories below me, traffic is buzzing. Climbing up the fire escape, I swing my leg over the final rung and step onto the roof. Even from a distance, the brilliant reflection from the glass skyscrapers is momentarily blinding, and I cling to my handhold for fear of vertigo. When my vision finally clears, black dots dancing in the foreground, I slowly realize I’m not seeing sunspots. Directly in front of me is a friendly swarm of bees, with Brandon Pollard standing calmly in the middle.

“Run your finger through this honeycomb,” he says, holding forth a frame of amber beeswax. The wooden rectangle is elegantly thin, and as he turns it he reveals a thousand tiny hexagons of honey, each capped with a translucent dollop of wax. Sensing my reluctance to damage such beauty, he proffers the comb a second time. “You can’t hurt it,” he insists, leveling the frame like a golden platter. “Every bee has seventeen different jobs, from gathering pollen to serving the queen. Honeycomb repair is one of them. Trust me, they won’t hold it against you.”

I’ve never been one to pink-slip a honeybee, and I’m not about to start today. Following his orders, I slide my finger into the delicate comb, the sensation akin to a spoon cracking through crème brûlée. The honey is surprisingly dark, the color of molasses poured over cornbread. Dolloped onto my tongue, there’s no mistaking the taste of marigolds and dandelions, the floral bouquet balancing the heavy notes of dark sugar. The aftertaste brings to mind red clover — clean and mellow with the lightest hints of thyme and cardamom. It’s a treat, quite frankly, and unlike anything I’ve ever had the pleasure of sampling.

“That’s Zip Code Honey,” Brandon says proudly, smiling through the shadows of his keeper’s mask. “Bees can only travel three to five miles, and this hive is in the heart of Dallas. So we know that this honey came from 75270, from the flower beds and weeds that grow right here.”

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