A Different Kind of East Side Buzz

EAST NASHVILLIANS HAVE SOME NEW neighbors worth buzzing about these days, courtesy of Turnip Truck.
     The natural foods grocer, located on Woodland Street, has installed three honeybee hives on its roof with the goal of boosting neighborhood gardens and accessing a hyperlocal source of honey to be incorporated into some of its fare.
     “Our local residents will reap twofold benefits,” John Dyke, Turnip Truck’s founder and owner, says. “If they’re customers to our food service departments, they will have access to the most local honey available as we will be using rooftop honey in our prepared foods. Area gardeners and green thumbs within a 3-mile radius may notice extra pollinators this year from our hives.”
     The keeping of the bees will be left up to Andy Manchester, Turnip Truck’s baker in residence. Manchester keeps bees at home with his wife, Amy, and is a member of the local beekeeper association, which supplied the queens necessary for the new colonies. The Manchesters provided honey, pollen, and brood bees from their backyard and ensured that the new hives were acclimated properly.
     “In a nutshell, we literally had to make sure the bees accepted the queen and her pheromones, which drive the activity of the hive,” Dyke explains. “To do this, we kept the queens in a ‘queen cage,’ a small plastic device with small holes for air and one end with a fondant-like candy that the bees eat away to release the queen. Luckily for us, the bees accepted the queens.”
     The three hives stand on two pallets on the roof and each one consists of a screened bottom- board base supported by wooden bodies that were handmade by Bon Aqua Springs Woodenware. Although June is the typical honey-harvesting month, these hives aren’t likely to produce a significant amount until next year.
     If and when they do yield the sweet syrup, Turnip Truck will be careful not to take too much. Following a successful year, Dyke would like to add more hives to the roof. “This project completely epitomizes our mission,” he says. “Local, clean, community-minded, real-deal food supply work is our bread and butter. This is all about environmental stewardship and giving back to our neighbors. These bees are everything we are.”