Abuzz with flavour: honey and happiness produced at beehives across Logan
A Christmas present turned obsession led to Stephanie and Talis Blums forming The Urban Bee Co, a flourishing company encouraging urban beekeeping and producing honey from suburbs across Logan.
‘Talis had always wanted bees, so we got a hive – and then it became an addiction that we both poured our heart and soul into,’ Stephanie says.
‘We started keeping hives at family members’ places and selling the honey. We found that a lot of people who bought the honey wanted their own hives but felt nervous or that they didn’t have the time or knowledge to devote to it.
“That’s when we came up with our host-a-hive program. We would place hives on their properties, and we would come and do maintenance and the honey harvest. They could see the bees, hang out with them, and have all the advantages of a hive – as well as getting some honey when we do a harvest.’
Having hives across Logan means The Urban Bee Co honey is named for the suburb it comes from – and each has a distinct flavour.
‘Some of our Daisy Hill honey tastes lemony at certain times of year, while Priestdale bees made orange blossom so that honey tasted like oranges,’ says Stephanie.
The cold-pressed honey is popular with locals – but there’s more to the relationship between hive owner and bees than what they produce.
‘Once you get into it you realise every hive is different. The bees really have their own personalities and you can figure them out,’ Talis says.
‘They are fascinating little creatures to watch and you can see them doing their own little things – they communicate really well with each other.’
Stephanie and Talis run between 60 and 70 hives now – and say no 2 are the same.
‘A lot of our hosts feel very connected to their hives and will relax outside near the hives, chat to them – it is good for mental health as well; they are calming to watch,’ she says.
‘Bees emit a happy emotion – if you spend a lot of time near them it really boosts your mood. Bees are not aggressive at all and seeing them do their little dance on a flower you have planted to tell each other where the pollen is feels quite magical.’
Stephanie says while some of their hives are rural, the urban ones tend to do better thanks to the variety of back gardens, trees, plants and flowers the bees can choose from.
‘Even though when you think of beehives you don’t think of urban backyards, they do really well there and they are great for people who want to grow their own fruit or flowers,’ she says.
‘There are a lot of sidewalk trees in suburbs and cities that produce a lot of nectar and pollen for our bees.’
Stephanie also runs a bee program at several local schools and says she loves watching young people get excited about beekeeping. And she’s encouraged by increasing awareness of the importance of bees.
‘Awareness is important because bees pollinate a lot of our food. It would be a bland and hungry world without them,’ she says.
‘People are starting to lose their fear of bees and become really interested. People want to make their gardens bee friendly because bees are so good for their gardens.’
“Bees emit a happy emotion – if you spend a lot of time near them it really boosts your mood. Bees are not aggressive at all and seeing them do their little dance on a flower you have planted to tell each other where the pollen is feels quite magical.”— Stephanie
TOP 5 TIPS FOR WANNABE BEEKEEPERS – from Talis and Stephanie
1 – Do your research and make sure you have the time to dedicate to your bees. They require a lot of care and some knowledge.
‘Urban hives are a great idea and can do really well but beekeepers have to have done their research on the work that is needed – regular inspections, knowing what the hive needs to be healthy, what happy bees look like, how to maintain the hive – all of it is vital,’ Stephanie says.
2 – Find a mentor to help you navigate through some of the challenges – someone you can call and ask for advice if something unusual is going on.
‘In the beekeeping industry there are a lot of people who are so welcoming and so open to giving so much knowledge,’ Stephanie says.
3 – Join beekeeping groups online to find out more – then find your own path.
‘If you are asking questions, that means you are doing the right thing and everyone wants to give a hand and share experiences. Once you’ve listened, use that knowledge and find something that works for you,’ Talis says. ‘If you have happy healthy bees and you are happy doing what you are doing that’s the best scenario of all.’
4 – Enjoy the bees!
‘Watch them in the garden, learn about their personalities and hang out with them. That’s the best thing for many of our hive hosts. It can be really calming and enjoyable to sit with the bees,’ says Stephanie.
5 – Plant flowers and fruit trees and watch your garden grow.
‘The impact the bees have on gardens is bigger than most people think. We’ve had hive hosts who have harvested triple the amount of fruit trees after getting a hive – one woman went from averaging 3 to 5 chillis on her plant per season to more than 80,’ Stephanie says.