Jack Stone, urban apiarist
Thursday March 27, 2014·
Jack, of Brisbane's Bee One Third, is just one of a growing number of urban beekeepers dedicated to the cultivation and protection of these very important, fuzzy little creatures. The outstanding honey created from the vast variety of flowers grown in city centres all across Australia ain't a bad bonus, either. We got all up in Jack's beeswax about the ins and outs of keeping the hardest-working girls in the insect kingdom.
How'd you get into urban beekeeping?
Through searching for a hands on inner city agricultural movement that would keep me engaged, amused, entertained and educated. Bees have managed to do all of the above which I never though possible for a short attention span like mine.
I had just returned from 4 years abroad and was convinced my foreseeable future was going to be within a farming practice. Though I wasn’t sure what was going to pull my attention then, bees were coming up a lot in common conversation world wide and well, let’s just say I caught the buzz from a very early stage!
So what's the deal with bees? They're dying all over the place, right?
There is a deal with bees at the moment, and the media has been great in making the public aware of the trials and tribulations that we will one day face when the pollinator leaves this earth through mankind's own destructive ways. Is there a ‘bee’ problem though? I think the real issue lies with us, the perpetrator, man kind. We cover our food crops with chemicals and toxic pesticides and wonder why we are all of a sudden getting tremendously sick in our bodies… The same is happening with the bees as they pollinate those crops, except they can no longer take it and are beginning to, along with many pests and bacterial diseases that threaten them, are beginning to die out, colony by colony.
Is Australia in danger? Not just yet. We have the healthiest bee population in the world but as soon as we see the (imminent) introduction of the Varroa Destructor mite (Australia is the only nation on earth without it), we are going to find it a whole lot more difficult than we’ve ever found it before.
What can urban Australians do to help?
Plant Bee Friendly Plants. Plant more native trees, shrubs and flowers that suit your local ecology. Use DPI (the Department of Primary Industries) planting resources to discover what will work best for you and your garden. (Ed.: or set up a home in your garden for native bees!) Also, understanding what attracts good pollinators is important too, as bio-diversity is the spice of life.
If someone was keen on starting their own hobby-hive, how would you recommend they go about it?
Taking on the responsibility of bees in your yard is a fantastic hobby and a wonderfully rewarding action to take. I would suggest to join your local beekeeping club in your city or area and ask loads of questions. Beekeepers are generous and kind people, with bucket-loads of practical, observational and theoretical knowledge. Alternatively, if you’re a confident doo-dar, jump on board with one of Bee One Third's beekeeping workshops in the coming months. We will be holding beginners & intermediate workshops through winter that will leave you feeling confident with handling a start up colony come spring time!
What's the best/worst bit of working with bees?
The best bit is getting stung every now and then… it’s nice to be reminded you’re still here. Life everyday with those gorgeous hard working girls can get a little dreamy at times.
Probably the honey though, in all seriousness. Who ever knew honey could have so much multi-faceted variety from hive to hive? It’s just so incredible, to this day it blows my mind.
There are no bad bits to working with bees! Every single part of what they do is beneficial not only to the survival of their colony, but in more ways than you could imagine possible.