PODCAST EPISODE 35: Vanessa Kwiatkowski, Melbourne City Rooftop Honey, Melbourne, Australia
I remember when I was travelling in Europe, especially while in Paris and London, I visited a number of rooftop bee gardens. It was magical to be gazing over a new city, full of the dreaminess that comes with travel, surrounded by the buzzing of happy bees. Here, environmentally minded keepers, who understood the necessity of bees living in the world’s cities, were resourceful and passionate: finding the space for bees to live happily and fruitfully; producing unique honey blends, often for use in local restaurants and cafes. When I got back to Melbourne, I realised we had our very own rooftop bee gardens and beehives. It filled me with joy knowing that beekeepers here also understood the need for bees in the big smoke. I don’t think I would be mistaken when I say that Melbourne City Rooftop Honey is one, if not the most, loved and respected in this part of the country. For that reason, I am delighted to introduce you to Vanessa Kwiatkowski from Melbourne City Rooftop Honey for episode 35 of the BEES WITH BEN beekeeping podcast.
Melbourne City Rooftop Honey started beekeeping activities in 2010 and have received overwhelming love and support from the local community and businesses. As they state on their website: “Our plan is to put beehives on rooftops (or gardens) in the City and hopefully one day, each and every suburb of Melbourne. With your help, we will get there.” Rooftop Honey installs, maintains and cares for the bees in sky-high city locations through a mix of conventional and natural beekeeping methods. Hives are sponsored by local businesses to keep this maintenance afloat, and also to help pay for new hives to be rolled out in new locations. Another interesting fact is that the rooftop colonies were all once swarms, which the good folk at Rooftop Honey caught and then re-homed in these new urban positions – I bet those swarms didn’t realise they would be lucky enough to end up in a new outdoor penthouse suite when they caused all that commotion! Rooftop Honey currently manage over 30 hives in the Melbourne CBD, and a total of 120 hives in the Melbourne fringe and suburbs.
At a time when we are all pretty introspective about the ways we chose to live, we must turn that good thinking outward and into our local communities. As Rooftop Honey state, “Looking to the future, as we expand on concepts of growing food in our cities & making them cooler, greener & more sustainable — It is vital to protect honey bees and include them in our cities and sprawling urban landscapes.” That is a concept that warms my heart. From the rooftops of Paris and London, Toronto and New York, Hong Kong and Melbourne, and all the other bee-loving cities, let’s make space in every nook and cranny for the world’s most vital pollinators.
Tune in to hear Vanessa and I chat about the inspiring Rooftop Honey and the wonderful local businesses in support of this excellent venture.