There is soil under my fingernails, smudges of dirt on my chin and, somehow, a small white capsicum flower and a solitary sorrel leaf lodged in my hair. But this is no wild night out. In fact, it's only Saturday afternoon. I haven't even been drinking.
Rather, I'm at a workshop run by the friendly folk from Bee One Third, enjoying the river view from the rooftop terrace at The Edge. With a dozen others, I'm learning how to create a bee-friendly crate garden filled with luscious plants that, when fully grown and flowering, will hopefully have nature's pollinators all abuzz.
[ADVERT]The industrious team members at Bee One Third are on a mission to educate Brisbane residents about the vital role bees play in the ecosystem and how they remain at risk as a result of pesticides and urban sprawl. 'Aside from producing delicious honey, bees pollinate more than one third of the global food supply, including hundreds of our fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds,' says our workshop leader Jack Wilson Stone.
Having started out as something of an accidental apiarist, Jack now looks after 30 hives in total - 14 of them in his back yard. The rest can be found dotted around unexpected corners of the city - including the rooftop hives atop James Street's splashy retail precinct. Honey originating from such up-on-high locations is sold in shops including Scrumptious Reads.
But today, we are here to lend our support to the wild bee populations of Brisbane by creating 30x30 centimetre portable patches of pleasure not just for professional pollinators but for ourselves too. "I want to give you the confidence to build an ornamental source of food," Jack explains. "These gardens will also serve as great sources of colour, smells and beauty."
Bee whisperer Jack Wilson Stone shares his secrets for a bee-friendly crate garden. Author image.
Without going into too much detail, the process involves cobbling together a second-hand milk crate, a recycled hessian sack, builders plastic, river sand, potting mix and the geotextile bidim (no, I hadn't heard of it either, but apparently landscaping supply stores all stock it). Once assembled, these unlikely-looking Gardens of Eden will then be filled with plants such as silverbeet, globe artichoke, mustard greens, capsicum, lemon balm, mint, rosemary, Brazilian spinach, lemongrass and sorrel.
The best thing about it is: you don't need a green thumb to succeed at this activity. I'm all the proof you need of this. Our gardens have been home for two weeks now, and are thriving. The mustard greens, in particular, are going gangbusters and the capsicum plant, though smallish, has already sprouted another hopeful flower.
This isn't the only workshop Bee One Third is running. The company also organises various talks, honey tastings, beehive building sessions and cooking classes. Coming up soon is a Rooftop Hive Tour which will conclude with the consumption of a honey cocktail (or mocktail) fresh from the Tinderbox Kitchen bar. Sadly, tickets for this tour are already sold out, but you can always join the waiting list ... or sign yourself up to the Bee One Third mailing list to be first in line to receive information about upcoming events.
I realised with horror that I have only seen ONE bee this year. I have a reasonably flowery garden. I should have lots of bees. The pesticide companies are literally getting way with murder. We can sign petition and grumble but the only real way to stop them is DON'T BUY PESTICIDE.