Carmen Pearce-Brown at Honey Delight has begun her campaign to populate Canberra backyards and rooftops with bee hives, placing bees with her first ‘‘hive host’’ just before Christmas. The first ‘‘micro-apiary’’ went to a home in Conder and the second to Ainslie, and she has 11 hives out in all.
But the bees are struggling right now in the urban environment. Pearce-Brown says the cold, wet late spring, and hot summer meant fewer flowers and less nectar, and coupled with the lack of bee-friendly gardens in the city has put the bees at risk of starvation over winter. She believes many wild hives won’t survive the winter and she’s watching her urban hives carefully. She’s going to bring some back to a central location so she can watch and feed them over winter – sharing honey between hives and feeding the bees raw sugar.
Pearce-Brown says the hive in Harrison in Gungahlin is doing worst and those in Conder (Tuggeranong) and Ainslie the best, although those, too, are only just okay. Pearce-Brown has a plea for Canberrans to plant bee-friendly plants, such as dandelions, buddleias, hebes, borage, rosemary and other herbs, and sunflowers (consult the guide Bee Friendly on the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation website).
Pearce-Brown’s company is Honey Delight, a family company begun by her grandfather, with hives across NSW. They’re using bees bred for their passive temperaments in the urban honey project and all is going well from that viewpoint, she says, with the bees not bothering their hosts.
She now has a plan for hives on a rooftop in the Parliamentary Triangle – she’s looking at the Realm hotel or Pork Barrel cafe.