High up above Melbourne's rowdy jumble of traffic and crowds who short-cut through painted laneways, commute beneath crisscrossing tram lines and navigate infamous hook turns, there is a much quieter world but one that is no less active.
It's the growing trend of urban beekeeping that is populating the vacant spaces of rooftops and balconies throughout the City and suburbia. They are surprisingly good locations for a humble bee's home, as built up city environments have less pesticides floating around than in agricultural areas. The outcome of hosting these inhabitants on our rooves is environmentally sustainable, organic food production that benefits the local area's ecosystem and puts the honey on your toast with minimal carbon footprint. Consequently it's gained a lot of support in recent years.
Melbourne City Rooftop Honey is a project set up in 2010 by Mat and Vanessa who have installed over 70 hives in Melbourne so far. They are kept in the urban beekeeping business by volunteers, profits made from purchase of the honey they produce, and sponsorship from local businesses who fund the set up and materials for the hives in exchange for a part in this unique project and 20% of the honey their bees make.
They have Federation Square in on the game, having put a bee village atop the landmark that produces an estimated 350 kilos of honey each year, but there are opportunities for everyone to get involved. You can organise to sponsor a hive at your own location by getting in touch with them directly to be put on the waiting list. Helpful information about what's involved and all contact details can be found on their website through which you can also find a list of some of their supporting bars and restaurants, links to buy their honey and honeycomb products or you can offer to volunteer or donate.
Other ways to help the bee's cause at your own home is to put flowering plants and shrubs in your garden, keep all herbicides, pesticides and other harsh chemicals off them and to buy organic produce.
Here are a few health benefits of honey for you to contemplate next time your after a recipe, sweetener or spread for your breakfast.
Honey is antibacterial and anti-fungal and antiseptic due to an enzyme that bees add that makes hydrogen peroxide
It is great for conditioning the skin and hair and honey lip balm is great for chapped lips with the added bonus of making your kisses taste delicious.
Raw honey has varying vitamins, minerals, amino acids and enzymes which keep bacteria at bay and give your immune system a kick.