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happy hives in the sunshineBee­keep­ing is grow­ing in pop­ular­ity in Wel­ling­ton. You might want bees to pol­lin­ate your plants. You might yearn to pro­duce your own honey. Or you might just be curi­ous to learn about this indus­tri­ous insect. Whatever your reas­ons, you can keep bees suc­cess­fully even in an urb­an area if you pos­i­tion your hives care­fully. We’re very much reli­ant on honey bees for many of our food choices, but they won’t sur­vive without bee­keep­ers to con­trol the Var­roa mite. We would do well to sup­port them in any way we can.

The bee­hive is a com­plex met­ro­pol­is where tens of thou­sands of bees are gov­erned by the pher­omones of a single queen bee. Female work­er bees make up about 85 per­cent of the bees in a hive. Their respons­ib­il­it­ies in early life include clean­ing, defence and con­trolling the tem­per­at­ure in the hive. Once they take flight, they for­age tire­lessly for pol­len and nec­tar to feed them­selves and the rest of the colony. They fly until their wings wear out, and have a life expect­ancy of only six to eight weeks in sum­mer. The rest of the hive is filled with lar­ger male ‘drone’ bees. Their only task in life is to chase and mate with vir­gin queen bees from oth­er colon­ies on their nup­tial flights, after which the drones die.

Bee­hivwhen there's not enough room in a hive, bees will decide to leave in a swarmes need a sunny and sheltered spot. The bees fly along a reg­u­lar flight path from their hive entrance to their food sources, so this route must be out of the way of people if you want to remain on good terms with your neigh­bours. In addi­tion, bees need a read­ily access­ible source of water, not only to drink but also to help cool the hive in summer.

A strong bee colony will store extra sup­plies as honey. The jars of edible golden sweet­ness will be a wel­come reward for a patient bee­keep­er. Har­vest­ing and extract­ing the honey is a hot, sticky but deli­cious task at the end of sum­mer. The smell of the beeswax, the sun­shine glow of the amber comb and the first taste of honey from your own bees are unfor­get­table. The honey left in the hive feeds the bees through the winter and allows them to sur­vive through cold and wet days when they can’t fly to gath­er food.

Bee­keep­ing is a fas­cin­at­ing and reward­ing hobby. There are a many bee­keep­ers in Wel­ling­ton and they’re always will­ing to help oth­ers who are inter­ested in start­ing a hive. There’s nev­er been a bet­ter time for us to lend our busy insect friends a help­ing hand.

  • Wel­ling­ton Com­munity Edu­ca­tion Centre runs bee­keep­ing courses:
  • Wel­ling­ton Bee­keep­ers Asso­ci­ation wel­comes any­one inter­ested in learn­ing about bees or keep­ing them and meets on the first Wed­nes­day of every month in John­son­ville:
  • Wel­ling­ton City Coun­cil by-laws allow bee­keep­ing “in a man­ner that is not or is not likely to become a nuis­ance, dan­ger­ous, offens­ive, or injur­i­ous to health”:
  • If you want to trade or sell honey you’ll need to com­ply with gov­ern­ment food safety require­ments cov­er­ing pro­cessing and labelling:
  • All bee­keep­ers are leg­ally required to register their bee­hives:

honey bee on pineapple sage flower

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