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Jessie Baker, Bees Up Top Director 26.11.22

Jessie shares with us her journey to bee keeping, and the importance of these small but mighty creatures.

I believe that by showing people how important and harmless bees are, we can create harmony between humans and nature. If we are kind to the bees, they will be kind to us.

I got into beekeeping when I had done a weekend course on apiculture and when I was looking for a new flat I moved in with a guy who had a beehive in his backyard! We spent the next 3 years totally immersed in bees. We made honey and sold it at the front door, planted for the bees and made honey beer. The part that really got me hooked was when we ordered a new Queen on the internet and the postman delivered it to my front door! It blew my mind!

Bees Up Top came to be when I realised that bees were being exterminated as pests. One third of the food we eat is pollinated by bees. They are already under a lot of stress from pesticides, disease and planting of mono-cultures, so I felt compelled to do something to stop our pollinators from being exterminated.

I decided to re-home the bees on the rooftops of Auckland city because cities are a safe haven for bees due to less competition for food and no crops being sprayed with pesticides. It was the perfect way to raise awareness about the extinction of bees and the bees get the best views in town! Did you know that a bee will fly 5km to find food? Auckland city is full of food for bees because of all the parks, gardens and residents’ balconies and backyards that are in bloom all year round.

Education around bees and why they are so important is one thing that I am really passionate about. Bees pollinate one third of the world's food! Basically every fruit and vegetable that has a seed or a pip was pollinated by a bee! Imagine a world without those nutritious foods! We would be living on wind pollinated food, things like grains and rice. It means we would have a very limited diet. By placing beehives in the city where people can see them, it starts a really important conversation around bees and why we need them to survive.

So many people think that bees are out to sting them! I think this misconception comes from watching kids cartoons, when we would see a big swarm of bees chasing a character and that character having to jump into a pool to escape the bees. Bees think humans are trees and they don't want to sting us. Bees are very busy going about their business, collecting nectar for their colony and looking after their babies. The only time they may sting is if you disturb their hive. I want to change people's fear of bees and it's why I wear no gloves when I check my bees.

I believe that by showing people how important and harmless bees are, we can create harmony between humans and nature. If we are kind to the bees, they will be kind to us.

Written by Jessie Baker

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