We are so excited to introduce you to our latest Compostable Canvas with Bees Up Top. Our Limited Edition cups have been beautifully designed by local artist, Celia Steenhuisen.
Let’s talk about Bees up Top. Jess and Luke are the young, dynamic duo from Bees Up Top. They have been beekeeping for 10 years. Their passion for bees began when we were looking for a new flat and moved in with a beekeeper. Learning everything from collecting swarms to re-queening from their mentor/flatmate who has been keeping bees for 30 years.
Bees Up Top rescue bees from the walls and trees of people’s houses before the exterminator is called in and safely re-home them on the rooftops and backyards of Auckland City. So your bees would be rescue bees! They give the honey to the business owner to use as they please. It can be resold or make great gifts for staff/clients.
They aim to increase New Zealand’s healthy bee population by supplying healthy, happy hives to urban areas and to educate our future generation on the importance of keeping our little workers around by putting bees into schools for free.
We were lucky enough to chat with Jessie, one half of the dynamic duo behind Bees up Top to talk about how it started, Bee courses, tips and tricks for at-home bee support and more!
Photos by Joel McDowell
Hi Jessie! Thanks for chatting with us. We’re stoked to be working with Bees Up Top for our latest compostable canvas. Can you please tell us a bit about Bees Up Top and how it started?
I have always been interested in bees. But the journey really started when my husband and I moved in with a beekeeper. Our new flatmate taught us beekeeping and the next 3 years of our life was a BUZZ! Our flat was in an urban area, so we had a small backyard that we made the most of. We kept the beehive in the chicken coop! We harvested honey, made honey beer, rescued swarms and even ordered a new Queen on the internet and the mailman delivered it to our front door!
We took a year off life and traveled Central and South America, here we worked with beekeepers and learnt from them. We were hooked. When we returned to NZ an idea sparked to put bees on rooftops, the first beehive was placed on top of The Novotel and it has blown up from there!
What does a day in the life of your job look like?
Each day is always different which I love. Some days I am on top of the rooftops of Auckland city checking our hives, others I am pouring buckets of honey in my honey shed. The seasons predict my days. Right now it is the busiest season because the bees are re-queening, the hives are busy, the honey flow is nearly here and very soon the honey will be harvested. This will be given to clients that host a hive.
What have been your highlights of Bees Up Top so far?
The highlight for me is watching our swarm rescue counter grow. So many people are afraid of bees and will call the exterminator when they see a swarm. Knowing that we have rescued so many bees from being exterminated is the best feeling. This means the most to us and is what continues to drive the business.
Let’s talk about Bees! Why are they so important for our environment?
If we didn’t have bees to pollinate our food our diet would be VERY BORING! Bees do such an important job for us, they pollinate flowers, turning them into fruits and vegetables! Basically, every fruit/vege with a seed or a pip was pollinated by a bee. If we didn’t have bees we would be living on wind pollinated food, things like grains and rice.
In China Apricot orchards are pollinated by hand because the bees have been wiped out by pollution. Workers touch each Apricot flower with a feather that has pollen on it so the trees will produce fruit! Such a tedious job that the bees do for us effortlessly.
We love having a hive on the roof of our office building! Can you please tell us about your ‘rent a hive’ option and how can our readers get involved?
Anyone in Auckland can rent a hive from us. A rescue colony will be rehomed on your rooftop or in your backyard and BEESUPTOP manages the hive for you. The beekeeper visits once a month and harvests your honey at Christmas time. The honey is returned to you in personalised honey jars. We encourage you to learn about beekeeping, so if you would like to come into the hive with us each month that is FAB!
Your ‘Bee Courses” sound amazing! How did you come up with this idea? Is teaching others important to you?
We offer a 1 day course at Bethells Beach or an online course. Its important to me to teach people how to care for their bees the right way. Our online course was a result of the first lockdown and has proven to be very successful; with newbies harvesting honey just a few months after the course. The practical course equips you with bees and all the gear. But the best thing about completing the courses is the mentorship that you get from BEESUPTOP. Each person who takes part becomes member of our secret society and you are prompted and supported throughout the seasons.
What advice would you give to people who are keen to get involved in starting a beehive?
There is a lot involved with keeping a hive healthy and productive hive. They take a lot of time. Beekeeping is not a skill that you can learn on the internet. The best way to get started is to do a course or get a mentor.
What are some helpful tips for our readers to do in their gardens at home to support bees?
Bees love blue flowers best! Plant things like Borage, Lavender, Thyme and Rosemary. Borage is such a good plant for bees because it fills with nectar every 2 minutes! Other flowers can take up to 2 weeks! And Sunflowers provide a whole plate full of pollen that is fed to the baby bees.
We’re proud to work alongside Bees Up Top! What drew you to collaborating with us here at Innocent Packaging?
THANKS! I was ECSTATIC to get the call from Innocent Packaging because I have been in awe of your business for a long time. It’s so important to look after our planet and I think its so great that you have found a way to reduce waste packaging.
I can't go past a good lemon and honey tea. What is your favourite way to enjoy your honey?
For me I can’t go past a nearly burnt piece of Vogels, with way too much butter, SMOTHERED in honey!
Being based in Tāmaki Makaurau, what would you like to see our community doing more of, to protect our bees?
We are pretty lucky in Tamaki Makaurau and New Zealand in general. We have a lot of access to green space. PLANT FLOWERS! Flowers are so beautiful to look at, gardening is good for your soul & it helps our little bee buddies!
Do you have any exciting plans for Bees Up Top you would like to promote?
We have collaborated with Lavender Hill Lavender Farm and have made a honey gin with!!! It is handcrafted with pure Lavender honey and delicately blended with smoke from my bee smoker. It’s delicious and will be available to buy this Christmas.
Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to support you? (include your Instagram, website anything to promote you)
When you buy BEESUPTOP honey you are helping us to build more hives for rescue bees. You can buy our honey from our honey shop on our website www.beesuptop.co.nz