Bees ‘a fam­ily pet’ in city set­tings

Manawatu Standard - - NEWS - JOEL INE­SON

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

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