Beekeeping at the Club
At RACV Healesville Country Club and Resort, the team have embraced local honey production.
Golf Course Manager, Tim Pierce, has been managing beehives at Healesville for around seven years, having stumbled into the art by accident when he came across a swarm on the property.
These days he’s a licenced beekeeper and manages multiple hives, producing enough honey to completely supply the resort’s kitchens, including the signature contemporary restaurant Banyalla.
Himanshu Sharda, Executive Chef at RACV Healesville Country Club and Resort, says the onsite honey is used in a variety of dishes, including in salad dressings, desserts and as a sweetener.
The showpiece, however, is the frames of honeycomb that’s hung from the breakfast buffet for guests to serve fresh on their toast or cereal.
Melbourne City Rooftop Honey is responsible for around 130 hives across the city, in suburbs like Footscray, Prahran, Northcote, Fitzroy, South Yarra, Carlton and in numerous locations throughout the CBD.
The organisation works with local communities to host their hives, with an exceptional amount of interest from the public. “It got to a point where we were at capacity,” says Lumalasi. “We have recommended lots of people then take on the challenge of having their own hive and with that we're able to then provide education.”
Chances are, if you live in Melbourne, you’ve probably walked right past one of their hives and not realised. “Just because we have 60,000 bees in a beehive doesn't mean you end up with 60,000 bees in your garden buzzing around,” says Lumalasi.
In urban environments, hives are placed facing away from frequented areas or at a height to minimise their impact on their human neighbours. At most, you might see a few bees around the hives’ entrances – if you see them at all.
Despite their importance in the food chain, bees around the world – as well as in Australia – are under threat.
The Varroa mite is one of the biggest threats to the existence of bees, killing individual insects and contributing to the collapse of entire bee colonies. “If we were to scale a bee up to a human size, the Varroa mite would be the equivalent to having a parasite the size of a dinner plate stuck to our abdomen,” says Lumalasi.
Until recently, Australia was the last country in the world to be free of the parasite. That changed when the mite was detected at the in New South Wales on June 24 2022, with local beekeepers setting up exclusion zones to try and curb the infestation (which.
While Australia has successfully eradicated Varroa mite outbreaks in the past, urban beekeeping presents one potential solution to the crisis. “With the Varroa crisis that's unravelling as we speak it's all about migratory beekeeping… thousands and thousands of hives being moved around,” says Dowse. “You don't have that in the city. If we had a crisis here it would unravel a lot more slowly than it is up in Newcastle at the moment, basically because we are stationary beekeepers.”
“And that's actually healthier for bees.”