In recent years, backyard beekeeping has become a popular hobby. New Braunfels beekeeper Charlie Agar applauds the profession’s heightened profile, because it raises awareness among the public of the vital role bees and other pollinators play in agriculture and ecosystems. Agar began his own journey into beekeeping in 2013 after attending a presentation in Twin Falls, Idaho, where he lived at the time.
“I was instantly fascinated by these critters,” he recalls. “The way they function as a single super organism—it blew me away.” He got his first beehive that year and moved to New Braunfels in 2014. He’d come to love the area during a first residency from 2009 to 2011 working in outside sales and marketing. Shortly after Agar moved back, a friend asked him to do a hive removal. His beekeeping interest has since exploded into a fulltime career.
Business of the Bees – Charlie Bee Company
These days, between his work beekeeping and running his production company, FrontRow Multimedia, Agar’s life is truly “buzzing”—in ways both figurative and literal. Hive removal makes up around 50% of his business, while requiring around 75% of his time. After removing hives, he puts them through a process he calls “beehabilitation.” He transports them to isolated, rural plots of land, where he feeds and monitors them for general characteristics and aggression levels. These hives play an important role in another aspect of Agar’s business—the leasing of bee colonies on rural land, which allows landowners to claim a tax exemption as an “agricultural operation.” Agar deals in queen bees, too, buying them in bulk from breeders in East Texas, California, Georgia and Hawaii, and selling them to other Texas beekeepers. It’s important, he notes, to buy queens in regions where scutellata or equatorial bees aren’t prevalent. This breed, a common hybrid in Texas, is the biggest reason problems arise between bees and people, making it important to control their defensive characteristics as much as possible.
Agar also harvests around 1,000 to 3,000 pounds of honey a year (a small amount, he says), which he sells at local farmers markets and shares with clients. He has also integrated his passion for bees with his multimedia company, becoming highly active on social media. In 2017, he formed a partnership with Austin filmmaker Ashley Davison to produce a TV show, “ Charlie Bee Company .” The show ultimately debuted on Austin PBS in 2021 and was eventually broadcast by American PBS. Season 2 is scheduled to begin airing sometime in 2023.
Keeper of the Bees
Agar relishes his position as an unofficial honeybee ambassador. “Because of heightened public awareness of the increasing threats honeybees face,” he explains, “people are more and more asking me, ‘How can I help?’ And I tell them, ‘You don’t have to be a beekeeper. You can accomplish a lot by growing a pollinator habitat in your yard—flowers, bushes, weeds, a pollinator-friendly garden, less green grass.’ These can have a huge positive impact. And it doesn’t mean bees will build a hive on your property either.” In the off chance bees do settle too close to your living space, Agar adds, local residents are welcome to call him. To schedule a bee removal, call 830.708.8798.
Find more information about Charlie Bee Company on Facebook (@takethesebees), Instagram and TikTok (@ charliebeeco), or by visiting CharlieBee.com. Find Agar’s show on the web at pbs.org/show/charlie-bee-company.