This week I experienced my first taste of what I hope will become my new hobby: beekeeping. Sadly, I didn’t get to put on one of those bodysuits with a big mesh hood and get up close and personal with any of the little honeymakers just yet. This was a two-hour introductory class to the world of the honey bee, and how you can keep a hive in an urban environment. Part of a Victoria Business Improvement District initiative, two hives are going to be installed on the roof of my office block next spring, and I’m going to get involved with looking after them and harvesting their honey.
I feel like I’ve always had a thing about bees (check out a few of the bee paraphernalia I’ve collected in the photo below), but in reality I was probably scared of them when I was a child, and with good reason. Now I love them. I love their furry black and yellow stripes (so stylish – like they’ve got Sonia Rykiel jumpers on) and their penchant for hexagons. I love that they produce that delicious sticky golden toast accompaniment – and did you know honey is the only food stuff that never goes off? Some of it was found in Tutankhamun’s tomb apparently, still nowhere near its use by date. Plus, they’re vital for pollination but their numbers have been dwindling in recent years.
So I’m very excited about getting the chance to boost my local bee population and hopefully get some homemade honey too. At the workshop on Wednesday Brian McCallum, co-founder of social enterprise Urban Bees, told us all the basics, from bee anatomy and how a colony works, to honey production and what it takes to become a beekeeper. I found it absolutely fascinating, and next week I’ll be compiling a top ten of the best bee facts I learned and posting them here. We all got a copy of Brian’s book Bees in the City too, which I will be avidly reading in preparation for the next step, which apparently is a bee theory course. I don’t know if everyone else at the class today was still as keen by the end, but, personally, I was buzzing*.
*please be aware of the amount of willpower it took to get that far without making a terrible bee pun.