Update on Urban Honey – now with extra chooks!

Fever few - medicinal herb and part of our new herb garden

Fever few – medicinal herb and part of our new herb garden

The best part of my Sunday was the visit by Urban Honey to check on our Urban Honey beehive. When Carmen and Todd arrived, I was sweaty and dirt stained. After having shifted over a 150kg of compost into a new bin, dug up some potatoes, pruned, and turned over a garden bed, I was a sight no doubt. But Todd, in his quiet, reserved way said ‘we’re from the country’. Which makes perfect sense. Physical work is not an oddity in the country. The sight of someone in a work shirt and a bit dirty is no surprise. There is nothing objectionable about wearing a hat and perspiring. Of course, country people would have been wearing their boots, no matter how warm it was and how close to the home paddock they were working. I wasn’t and I regretted it later as I shook the dirt out of my crocs.

The excitement this afternoon is that our tour of the garden, involved the chooks. Finally, our chook palace has actual chooks. We had been finding the right chooks elusive, and then yesterday at the farmer’s market our number came up. Four of the kind of bantams we like, were available. Right there and then. We snapped them up. Soon we were off with our cardboard box of chooks. We were almost ready for their arrival, but there was a bit of flurry on Saturday afternoon to make final preparations.

Gorgeous Langshan - blue

Gorgeous Langshan – blue

As Carmen and Todd wandered around the garden today taking photos and chatting about bee friendly plants, the progress of the hive was noted and Carmen moved it slightly to take account of the shifting sun as we head into the cool weather. We talked about the Arbutus, the Irish Strawberry tree, which has come into flower and is full of bees. We chatted about herbs and other flowering plants.  We also chatted about the importance of what the Urban Honey project represents. The value is not the honey, or the even the pollination, but rather the education. It is about Benedict and his peers. While we work to try to build our urban pantry; herbs, potatoes, eggs, honey, we are building something much more significant. We are building understanding of where food comes from, how it grows, what the consequences are of the choices we make every day.

While I haven’t got enough time to make my own garden as wonderful as it is in my imaginings, I can always talk about how important it is to work towards an intelligent understanding of the world we live in, and how we can improve it.

Borage - bee friendly

Borage, comfrey and marigolds  – bee friendly and useful

Urban Honey – see for yourself

Here you can see the ABC 7:30 ACT story on Canberra Urban Honey and lovely Carmen Pearce-Brown.

Beehives in fashion #canberraurbanhoney


Urban honey


Urban honey in action

Sometimes a project comes along that immediately I want to be part of. Canberra Urban Honey is one such project. When I found out we could have a bee hive in our backyard I jumped at the chance.

The Honey Delight beekeeping family have a long and rich tradition of producing excellent honey. With four generations of beekeepers they have a wealth of experience. One thing they had noticed was the declining numbers of bees in the Canberra environment. As Carmen Pearce-Brown tells it she kept hearing people talk about the lack of bees, and of low fruit harvests in their vegie gardens. She decided there was a very practical way the Honey Delight business could help bring bees back to the city. In response to declining urban bees, to promote the wonders of bees and their fundamental role in the environment, the Canberra Urban Honey project brings bees to the urban setting. With her considerable passion for bees and excellent social media skills, Carmen crowd-sourced the funding to get the Canberra Urban Honey project off the ground. She also talked the rest of her extended family into participating and helping her select and prepare hives to be hosted in the city. Not to mention sharing the long drives to country NSW to collect the hives.

With the funds raised, willing hosts lining up to participate, late last year the first hives were placed into Canberra gardens. Hives which are specially selected and prepared and transported from the country to the host gardens of Canberra. There is no work for us, the beekeepers come and do everything. It’s honey for nothing!

All jokes aside, the Canberra Urban Honey project is not profit making for the beekeepers, as the honey yields are lower in the city, but it is all about raising awareness, about supporting the urban environment and sustainable ecosystems. The project now has a waiting list of people willing to host hives in their gardens. Luckily we got in early.

After a heatwave delay when it was too hot to move ourselves, let alone the bees, last Friday our hive finally arrived! Great excitement as the truck pulled up and unloaded our Urban Honey hive. Bees right in our urban setting. Right behind our enormous banksia rose, and next to the vegie garden, rests the Honey Delight hive. Repainted, with fresh healthy queen and bees who can’t wait to experience the city, the hive which a few days ago was deep in the country is now flying around our garden and beyond. I say our bees, already they are a part of the fabric of our garden, even if we are only hosting them.

We planted a new herb garden in their honour, full of flowering medicinal herbs like comfry, feverfew and plants like artichokes. We also let some of our vegie garden go to seed, like the fennel above in preparation. We will need to do more of this, all of us, to sustain a healthy urban life. While we were originally customers of Honey Delight, to attempt to keep up with our prodigious demand for honey (where does it all go, Benedict?) we are now thrilled to be part of an important community sustainability project. It is yet another way to show Benedict where food comes from and receive the benefits of pollinators buzzing around while we contribute to the health of the urban eco-system.

To me this is just the start. Soon the chook shed (which is really a palace for chickens) will be in place and we will be using our large backyard well, and making a contribution to sustainability that goes further than buying organic, supporting local growers and recycling.


Here they come

Here they come

Hive Hosting

If you’re interested in hosting a hive, see details at Canberra Urban Honey or see Honey Delight at the Capital Region Farmers Market every Saturday.
Hive Hosting is managed in a similar way to Honey Delight commercial beekeeping:
Honey Delight relocate the hive to your property but maintain ownership of it, they manage the hive and the colony.
When there is honey to harvest we manage the honey extraction process and share the honey with you (3kg per harvest).

You can also contact Carmen on twitter or facebook.