Beekeeping is on the rise, according to the Ballarat Regional Beekeepers, who are bringing bees back into urban Ballarat.
The hobby beekeeping club was host to more than 260 bee enthusiasts from across the state at the Victorian Beekeeping Clubs Conference on Saturday.
Ballarat welcomed beekeepers from as far as Mt Gambier, Shepparton and Sale to Mercure to hear from some of the countries most innovative beekeepers who are bringing bees to backyards and rooftops.
Founders of Melbourne City Rooftop Honey Vanessa Kwiatkowski and Mat Lumalasi shared their story of bringing bees into Melbourne’s city centre.
The pair look after 25 hives in the Melbourne’s CBD and 120 in the suburbs.
“Our first hives in the city were on top of restaurants so the food industry and the food scene really embraced what we were doing,” Mr Lumalasi said.
“The project has been running for about eight years. We have seen the growth in interest in bees being kept in an urban setting and having bees back in suburbia. It is not something new. It is something that was kind of old and has been new again,” Ms Kwiatkowski said.
“People want to know the story of where their food comes from as well as connecting with nature. There has been the realisation that being in a natural environment is good for us in amongst our cities.
If we are going to have greener sustainable cities, bees and pollinators play a huge role and are super important, so they need to be included not excluded.Vanessa Kwiatkowski, Melbourne City Rooftop Honey
Rooftop beekeeping is something that can be modelled in Ballarat’s CBD.
Doug Purdie from Sydney based company The Urban Beehive said its also something that can be adapted to the Ballarat backyard, but encourages those who are not interested in beekeeping to help in other ways.
“Housing blocks are becoming a lot smaller and the big gardens are being destroyed. We need more people to think about planting things that flower which is the food that we need for insects, birds and bees,” he said.
But conference facilitator and host of ABC’s Gardening Australia Costa Georgiadis sees a bigger potential for the little creatures.
“Bees are a real pocket sized educator,” he said.
“These little creatures can lead people into the importance of pollination and how pollination is critical for food and food is critical in terms of urban agriculture and the future of food security.”
There are around 7600 registered beekeepers in Victoria, with recreational or hobbyist beekeepers making up 88 per cent. The Ballarat club has gained 100 members in the three years since its formation.