Public beehives are the new buzz in the Wakatipu.
Thanks to local apiculturist Neal McAloon and various sponsors, bee colonies have popped up in the Queenstown Gardens, Arthurs Point’s School House Reserve and Arrow Junction’s Whitechapel Road.
In each case, McAloon, who runs environmental/social enterprise Bee The Change, has strategically placed the apiaries to aid pollination.
The three Arthurs Point hives, for example, are by an orchard recently planted by the local community association.
The three Arrow Junction hives are amidst a Wakatipu Reforestation Trust native tree plantation.
The Gardens hives have been sponsored by local restaurants Yonder, The World Bar, Public and The Fat Lamb, while Canyon Brewing’s sponsored the nearby School House Reserve hives.
Educational signage is about to be installed at each of the three sites.
“We’re trying to raise awareness of the importance of the honeybee species – the way a lot of our food is dependent on pollination through bees – and also raising awareness of what people can do in their own gardens,” McAloon says.
For example, he suggests people let the bank at the back of their garden, that’s a pain to mow, go wild and grow flowers in it – “and do we need to use that spray willy-nilly?”
“The apiculture industry and bees are under a lot of pressure globally.
“Our long-term mission is to build up strong colonies in the district so when crises strike around the world, we could be in a position to help send apiaries elsewhere.”
McAloon says it’s appropriate hospo premises support the initiative – “bees help create the food they take and now they’re giving back to the honeybee species”.
Ultimately, those restaurants will also be able to serve honey from their sponsored hives.
“The first season you just don’t know, because when you put the bees in the hives, they have to build that waxcomb up, and that takes a lot of the resources of the hive, but in the following seasons you would have greater amounts of honey.”