Bees ‘a family pet’ in city settings
An unlikely trend is infiltrating urban businesses and even becoming ‘‘a family pet’’ in Christchurch homes – bees.
An increase in the number of registered amateur beekeepers over the past few years has spread to CBD businesses investing in ‘‘rooftop hives’’ and urban residents setting up in their backyards.
The first jars of honey produced in the Botanic Gardens’ hives went on sale at the Visitor Centre gift shop this week, joining similar steps made by Ballantynes department store at the beginning of 2016.
Mark van Dooren, head of maintenance for Ballantynes, set up eight rooftop hives – about 80,000 bees – and the company sold two types of honey as well as using it for its production kitchen.
It was something he had never done before, in or outside of work, but he expected the bees would have produced ‘‘upwards’’ of about 40 kilograms of honey when he harvested again in about six weeks.
’’Part of my job is I’m up here quite a bit, you know, servicing the maintenance areas and air conditioning. It seemed an ideal location for them – they’re not going to be disturbed and are not disturbing anybody else.’’
Christchurch Hobbyist Beekeepers’ Club (CHBC) member Lee Carmichael said she alone had about 150 hives dotted around the city.
The Christchurch club had more than 200 members, up from about 70 in 2014, Carmichael said. She had been running a delivery service for bees in people’s homes since 2009.
Van Dooren said he thought it was ‘‘great’’ that people in the city were continuing to get involved with beekeeping.
’’It’s not about just having honey. The Canterbury plains and farmers rely on it . . . It’s very healthy that [city dwellers] are actually starting to say ‘right, I want a hive in my home and I can educate my kids’. It’s all for the greater good I think.’’
The Christchurch City Council has no specific guidelines or bylaws for keeping bees in the home, aside from information for removal of pests.
Carmichael said an urban environment could prove more beneficial to both the bees and their output as long as the right precautions were taken.
’’You get lots of food in town because there’s lots of things flowering at different times of the year. The bees actually do better, usually, for food, but being in town you’ve got to be aware of whether you’ve got the right back garden.’’
She said bees in urban areas often became ‘‘an extension of the family’’.
‘‘People really like them. You become very passionate about your bees . . . they become a family pet, really.’’
– Fairfax NZ