Horsham Downs beekeepers Martin and Stephanie Lynch are helping to sweeten Hamilton.
Hamilton Gardens, Hamilton Zoo and Taitua Arboretum are now home to bee hives, installed through a new partnership between Hamilton City Council and Sweetree Honey, who are part of the Hamilton Farmers Market.
Martin and Stephanie have placed 45 bee hives across the three facilities in a deal which will see Council on-sell some of the honey produced by the hives’ resident bees.
Martin, who has been involved in beekeeping for more than 20 years, approached Council in early 2014, looking for iconic Hamilton locations to place some of his hives. After discussions with staff, Hamilton Gardens, Hamilton Zoo and Taitua Arboretum were identified as ideal locations for the bees to go about their business.
“This is an exciting opportunity to produce a honey that reflects the flora and places of Hamilton and which I hope will turn out to be something very special. The honeys we already produce are all site specific each with their own flavour and texture and this is a chance to get a taste of Hamilton in a unique way,” he said.
“At the Hamilton Farmers Market, many locals tell me they don’t have any bees in their gardens and they would be very keen to have some. We will be adding 1,500,000 bees into the city, each with a 5km flight range, so we are very pleased to be working with Council to make some contribution to improving biodiversity and nature in the city.”
He expects the first batches of honey from the three sites to be available in April or May.
Mayor Julie Hardaker said Hamilton is known for its green spaces and this was a good match. “Bees pollinate an estimated 70 per cent of our food crops, so gardeners near these three locations will benefit as well,” she said.
Martin expects the hives to produce about 1.5 to 2 tonnes of honey, once they are established and the bees are humming. The honey will be sold at the Hamilton Gardens shop, Hamilton Farmers Market, and fed to honey-eating animals at Hamilton Zoo.