They are in almost every backyard in Newcastle. In fact in 26 inner city suburbs they live enmasse – up to 80,000 of them are keeping busy sustaining ecosystems.
For Urban Hum founders Kelly Lees and Anna Scobie they are like pets, each with their own personality, likes and dislikes.
Bees, say the pair, are not to be feared but rather admired.
“There is a sense of fear about them for some people,” Kelly said.
“But they’re amazing creatures.
“Bees sense mood and temperament. They don’t like strong smells, they don’t see the colour red. There is so much more to them than most people are aware of.”
Long-time backyard beekeepers and avid environmentalists, Anna and Kelly are hoping Novocastrians will join them in embracing their passion.
Through their small, artisan enterprise the pair sell honey and beeswax products, offer a bee rehoming service and run workshops on beekeeping.
They remain adamant the wellbeing of their creatures are at the forefront of the business.
“We never take all their honey, feed our bees sugar, treat with antibiotics or use any chemicals in our hives,” Anna said.
“Our hives are managed gently and unobtrusively with minimal interference.
“The bees know what to do and we let them do it.”
In January Urban Hum launched a program of tours offering a look “under the hood of a hive”.
“You suit up for two hours and learn some facts about bees,” Kelly said.
“It’s for anyone who has ever wanted to look inside a beehive and see a honey bee colony in action.
“People are often surprised by how many bees are in there – 50 to 80 thousand bees live within a hive.
“If you are calm then your bees will be calm, that’s my biggest tip.”
The tours began as part of the City of Newcastle’s Product Development Mentoring Program helping small businesses offer more bookable experiences.
From its humble beginnings on a small Mayfield property ten years ago, the self-confessed bee-nerds have been researching the creatures’ every move and motivation over the past few years.
“We had lots of veggie patches and we were having to hand-pollinate our zucchinis, they just weren’t getting pollinated. Food production needs bees. So we went to a beekeeping course for some help.
“It all just grew from there.”
From two hives with “a fair bit of honey”, the duo decided to sell their wares at a local market.
Local honey enthusiasts then encouraged them to pursue their hobby further.
“We’d just been to Melbourne and seen Rooftop Honey,” Anna said.
“It’s a beautiful program where they have bees in the city.
“We thought, Newcastle’s awesome, we need bees in the city.
More than 200 Hunter residents have since attended their workshops, many have subsequently set up hives in their own backyards.
“You can get 30kg of honey from a beehive. They produce more than is needed for a household and honey is such a sustainable gift,” Anna said.