Getting up close and personal with bees is certainly something that I have never thought of doing, but when the invitation dropped into my inbox from James Street Initiative to attend a very unique and cool event, I was onto it straight away, this was a once-off opportunity!
James Street teamed up with Bee One Third Neighbourhood Honey to implement Brisbane’s first rooftop beehive back in November 2012. The beehive is located just up on top of the roof above Gerard’s Bistro. I met with a group of media types and bloggers at Gerard’s on a beautifully sunny and warm Saturday morning. After being kitted out with some extremely attractive protective clothing, we managed to negotiate up a set of stairs and then a small ladder (which was very difficult one-handed carrying a heavy bag and camera, but never fear, I made it) up to the rooftop where we were able to view the rooftop beehives.
Jack from Bee One Third has an agenda to provide education on the importance of bees in local ecology. Bees are generally in a spot of trouble, honey production being affected by pesticides and the growth of cities. Bee One Third provides a service to rehome wild colonies of bees into hives on rooftops of the city. Jack gave us a very interesting session which introduced us to the James Street bees, who are actually very docile, cute and fuzzy!
These bees travel within a radius of 5km around their hives, visiting over 150 different types of trees and plants in the area. 98% of the bees are female foragers, and the rest are male drones who act to clean the hive. The rooftop hive consisting of 300,000 bees has been incredibly productive, the honey from the hives being used by local businesses such as Gerard’s Bistro, Tinderbox and Jocelyn’s Provisions.
We left the rooftop to head over to Jocelyn’s Provisions for a morning tea, and to witness live honey extraction, and to sample varieties of honey from different Brisbane neighbourhoods. Each honey tasted incredibly different, dependent upon the types of pollen collected. My favourite was one that had a definite aniseed taste.
Jack from Bee One Third showed us how to extract honey from the beehive racks, first cutting off a layer of wax and then placing the rack in a barrel which uses centripetal force to eject the honey from the honeycomb.
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