The long cold winter had Benedict Hughes worried his bees would run out of honey and starve before the Spring came. But last week as he peered into one of his hives in an Ivanhoe backyard Benedict breathed a sigh of relief when he saw new season’s honey flowing. The worry has now faded as Benedict is suddenly busy answering one or two call-outs a day to collect swarms – like the one above on a front fence in Collingwood. “They often just wait or are “staging” while the scout bees look for a better home in a wall or a tree or a compost heap”, he says.
Benedict is The Practical Beekeeper
, part of a growing band of urban apiarists, including Rooftop Honey Backyard Honey
, Bec’s Beehive
, Bunyip Beekeeper
and Save the Bees
, making a living keeping bees in the city and teaching people how to do it themselves. In his new business Benedict is discovering the seasonal challenges – like his bees he’s right at the end of last year’s honey supply and has to make do until Spring’s new supply kicks in next month. This coming year Benedict is aiming to live exclusively off the proceeds of his beekeeping and to that end he’s keen to add to his existing 50 urban hives (you can contact Benedict here
if you are interested in hosting hives – I hear there’s honey in it).
Like most of his urban apiarist peers Benedict is heavily involved in bee education, “there’s been an amazing increase in interest especially since the Flowhive
was launched”, he reports. On the back of all this interest The CERES Bee Group
,which he Benedict, has grown to 120 members with 10-15 people showing up every third Sunday to learn more about keeping backyard bees (it’s free btw).