On a recent trip to Melbourne the number of businesses working with local apiarists to produce rooftop honey inspired me. My initial interest was the product and the sustainable way that it was being produced.
It wasn’t until I read more on the subject that I realised the positive environmental impact that this project was having and it made me think about what could be done in Auckland. Bees can no longer survive in the wild. This is a disturbing statistic when you consider that they are responsible for the pollination of 80% of plant species.
Some interesting facts about bees: New Zealand has 28 species of native bee. Honeybees were first brought to New Zealand in 1839 to pollinate the white clover pastures being planted, Commercial beekeeping started in 1878. New Zealand’s commercial honey industry thrived after the world wars when many returned servicemen took up beekeeping. One of our most famous beekeepers was Sir Edmund Hillary.
A decline in bee populations due to Varroa mite, pesticides, disease and loss of habitat is wiping out bees and leading to reduced food crops here in New Zealand as well as globally. This phenomenon is known as Colony Collapse Disorder. So although my initial thought when I experienced rooftop honey was that it tasted very nice with my cheese, I now know that the bee swarms supported by this process are doing so much good.
This weekend we had two hives delivered to home, we will get kilos of wonderful honey but we are also helping our local community by reintroducing bees.
I would love to see local Auckland restaurants embrace this concept. It is relatively inexpensive (especially when you factor in the honey) and there are plenty of inner city location that could easily accommodate a hive or two.
So next time you’re ordering a cheese platter or requesting a natural sweetener in your tea ask where the honey came from.