Urban beekeeping in New Mexico's largest city.
Eco Friendly Phillips 66 Station in Cedar Crest
As a hobbyist beekeeper I am accustomed to fielding questions from friends and acquaintances about honey bees. I’ve urged hummingbird lovers to purchase bee proof feeders (available locally at Triangle Grocery in Cedar Crest), and reassured nervous mothers that children are unlikely to be stung by bees foraging among plants for pollen and nectar. I wasn’t prepared, however, for a telephone call received on Sunday, September 13th from the Cedar Crest Phillips 66 gas station/restaurant. About one hundred bees had made a “bee-line” through the open door to the soft drink dispenser where they were feeding on sugary water in the overflow tray beneath the faucets! They were also swarming around the garbage barrel in front of the store foraging among cast off soda cans and had even formed a ring around an abandoned coffee cup! The new owners of the Phillips 66, Tony and Lila Hammouma, didn’t want to harm the bees, but sought help on how to remedy the situation. I explained that in the fall honey bees have little plant life on which to forage for the nectar and pollen stores needed to sustain their hive over winter. Together we crafted a plan including provision of an alternate source of sugar syrup for the starving bees, limiting their access to used soda cans, and closing the front door of the establishment upon the first sighting of a bee. Within only a day or two the bees were reoriented to the alternate food source and are no longer entering the store, even though the door remains open to welcome human customers. The silver lining of this tale is my new found friendship with Tony and Lila. Tony, born in Washington, D.C. of Algerian parents (his father is a long-term employee of the Algerian Embassy), married beautiful Algerian born Lila (pronounced “Leela,”) two years ago. The two work nonstop, seven days a week, at the Phillips 66, without any additional employees as they build the business. Yet despite their desire to leave an open and welcoming door to their human customers, they also went the extra mile to protect their unexpected guests, the honey bees. If you are in the neighborhood, stop by and thank Tony and Lila for doing their part to protect the honey bees in Cedar Crest, our home grown pollinators in distress.
Submitted by: Sarah Malone, Cedar Crest beekeeper