Saturday, 5 January 2013

First Hive Opening

The first hive opening was rather exciting today.... lots of capped brood, I could see eggs, pollen and honey storage, but no Queen just yet. Lots of "mounds of bees" so she could have been hiding in there. However, getting past my initial adrenaline rush over beeing so close to all of these amazing creatures, perhaps I should bring you up to date on the bee story so far.

 Living in West Footscray for the past two years has seen a lot of settling in, working on establishing the vegie garden, getting to know the general run of the property and the plants that were here. This past few months my trusty Rover has been slowly notching down... along with my mechanic saying "wow... this car! I will find you another one" led me to thinking more about beeing sustainable. In the past I have been an avid cyclist, however that really died when I got a car and has been hard to maintain ever since. So we will let Rover go. So along with the idea of beeing more sustainable came the idea of creating a little veggie patch and Zen garden in the driveway (won't bee needing that, right?). This took a lot less time and money than I though, happily, so I was able to order some bees from the gentleman that I did my bee keeping course with. And hey presto! we now have bees!!

So Sir, along with being as happy as a bee in honey when it comes to creating spaces, having a new hobby (and all the gear that goes with it!) also looks to a future where there may not bee as much ecological variation in our crop populations, a changing landscape that is pushing toward urban planning that really should consider the population growth of cities and the use of space for food growth that is layered into our use of space for living as well.

This time, right now, seems to me to be so exciting. I remember my childlike fantasies of the future... flying cars, hovering skateboards (it was all very Back to the Future) has now started to morph into urban spaces with beehives and vegie gardens on rooftops, snaking bike paths around factories that produce sustainable materials for housing and living, people using the communication technology to create communities within communities that discuss the use of the earth, creation of living spaces that are both beautiful and functional, and how to manage wild creatures that give us what we need. Maybe one household has bees, another chickens, another a goat, another an orchard of fruit, another a large veggie garden instead of a lawn....another an organic crop of cereal... hey presto! A whole neighbourhood is sustainable in a lot of basic ways.

It doesn't mean reinventing the wheel. No one is going to rip out our sewage system (we all still shit and it still bloody stinks!!) and transport us back to ma-n-pa kettle, the slow combustion stove and no air-conditioning. But there must be a way that we can work together to keep our comforts and also use our space more effectively, wisely and with consideration for the massive yet fragile ecosystems that support us in so many ways. This is what beekeeping is all about for me. A chance to make and bee the change that i would love to see in the world... starting from my very own driveway.


  1. Really cool. I'm curious about what kind of space you have overall. I've been half toying with the idea of beekeeping at my place, but I'd be a bit nervous about having so many bees in close proximity to the kids next door.

    I'm really looking forward to hearing more about your apiarial experiences!

    1. Hey David.

      Lovely to hear from you. Hope you are keeping warm!!

      I certainly understand your concerns about the kids next door. I think that the location of the hive is really important.

      When I was thinking about setting up I wasn't comfortable having a hive in the back yard because of the curious pussycats and the active possum night life, also two of our five boundaries share with blocks of flats and their corresponding car parks.

      The front garden was out too because there are certain regulations about the positioning of the hive... 2m from boundary fences/impenetrable barriers (like a hedge) if they are over 2m high, 3m away from the boundary if not. I did my research on where I could actually have the hive legally (they are registered here in Australia and open for inspection by the government at any stage... but usually only if there is a complaint!) and it turned out that I needed to create the space myself.

      I erected a fence across the driveway and have placed the hive behind it. This fits in nicely with the regulations about positioning and hides the hive from the view of anyone who isn't actually on my property peering over the fence! I can tell that there are bees coming and going because they fly over the fence, but most of the airspace that they take up is hidden from view. None of my visitors have noticed the bees, even when they have walked past the fence to come to the front door. I am also hidden from view when I am opening the hive.

      My neighbour whose home the hive faces is an elderly Ukrainian gentleman who is often out in his garden too.... but I have positioned the hive as far away from my living spaces, which means they are far away from his too!!

      Bee air traffic seems to be most intense around the hive in about a 2m cubed area.... a bit hard to describe. The bees were very active when I first brought them home, circling, getting their bearings etc.... but now it is only a few baby bees that circle and most of the foragers know exactly where they are going and fly in and out very quickly. The opening really does direct their flight path to a considerable degree.... so consider this with your placement. Here in Southern hemisphere they like their opening to face North, North/East... probably a little different for you in the Northern Hemisphere.

      I hope that has helped? Overall.... they are hardly noticable if they are hidden from general view and happy doing their business. If your neighbours have veggies or fruit trees I reckon they will notice their increased yield before they notice a bee.