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Beekeeping on Melbourne’s Rooftops

Melbourne’s urban landscape is abuzz thanks to Melbourne City Rooftop Honey, who are bringing bees back to the city. Annie Reid has the story.

Beekeeping on Melbourne’s Rooftops


November 22nd, 2011

Urban beekeeping is thriving in Melbourne, and that’s exactly how Mat Lumalasi and Vanessa Kwiatkowski like it.

The two founded Melbourne City Rooftop Honey just over a year ago and have been working hard ever since spreading the good word about bees.



“Melbourne is in front in terms of adopting food practices, and we understand the importance of what we are doing,” Mat says.

And that is bringing back bees to the city, one hive at a time. For $250, Mat and Vanessa will install one of their beehives onto a rooftop or unused space of a restaurant, bar, cafe, hotel, or in a garden.



Each hive contains a queen bee, plus her team of up to 80,000 bees that Mat and Vanessa re-home from feral colonies.

The hive host or sponsor keeps 20 per cent of the honey produced with the rest sold back to the local community. A typical season yields about 30kg of honey per hive, and this is extracted on site to reduce food miles in keeping with Mat and Vanessa’s aim to promote local food production. The cost includes all maintenance.


In action on Ladro’s rooftop. Image Ingrid Langtry

Now in bee season, “It has just gone a little bit crazy,” Mat says, and the waiting list currently tops 200 for hosts and sponsors keen to be involved.

Last week, the company installed its 35th hive – at Burch & Purchese Sweet Studio in South Yarra – while other hosts include Golden Fields in St Kilda, the CBD’s The Alto Hotel and Trunk Restaurant and Bar, plus its first supporters, Ladro in Fitzroy and Adrian Richardson’s Luna Bistro in Carlton.


In action on Ladro’s rooftop. Image Ingrid Langtry

“We were already familiar with Adrian’s passion for food,” says Mat. “And when talking to chefs and other restaurants, we stumbled upon various gourmet tastes.”

They discovered that the honey tastes differently depending on the hive’s location, so they now offer seven flavours from all over inner Melbourne. Honey from East Brunswick has hints of cherry or nuts, while Prahran honey has a citrus kick and a sharp finish.

“The popularity has gone beyond what we expected and the response has been excellent. Everyone is in it for the right reasons and we’re looking forward to the season,” Mat says.

Pics courtesy of Melbourne City Rooftop Honey

Melbourne City Rooftop Honey

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