Canberra Urban Honey is more than just a family of beekeepers. For fourth generation beekeeper Mitch Pearce, it’s a community project; a way of taking care of bees and fostering a population of pollinators that are integral to Canberra’s biosphere. For Mitch, his work to protect Canberra’s bee population came from talking to his customers at the Capital Region Farmers Market. “We were selling our family honey there and we’d have a lot of people asking to have hives in their backyard. People were having a problem with pollination, and they were becoming desperate. We discovered that we were on the verge of a pollination crisis in Canberra.”
The decision was easy – a crowd funding campaign was the foundation – and the view to having a hive within 3 kilometres of every house in Canberra hopes to propagate and support a healthy population of Canberra pollinators. “There’s now an increased understanding in the community about what pollinators need to survive. It’s not just about placing bees in people backyards, it’s also about driving changes in the plants that people grow, making sure bees have access to varied pollen and nectar-producing plants.” People can contact Mitch via the Canberra Urban Honey website and apply to have hives placed in their yards, on their building rooftops or in their vacant land. Supporters get the benefit of healthy pollination, plus a share of honey that comes as a result.
Always community-focused, Canberra Urban Honey takes any opportunity to work with local businesses and promote the health of these intriguing insects. “We’ve worked with Realm Hotel, we have hives at Pialligo Estate who needed pollination in their orchards, and we’ve collaborated with Ona Coffee and Bombolini Doughnuts. The way the community has embraced this project is fantastic.”
Mitch is still at the Capital Region Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings, selling this truly Canberran product, with each pot reflecting the provenance of where the bees live. “You can taste the difference between the different suburbs. Belconnen honey is often dark; the Ainslie one is a bit lighter. At the back of Mount Ainslie is a yellow box forest, so you get that flavour sprinkled with a bit of Ainslie neighbourhood variety. It’s a fantastic urban agricultural scene here in Canberra and we’ve been part of it in a way we could never imagine.”