How a CBD resort might save Sydney’s endangered bee inhabitants

Beekeeper Andrew Wilson said the beehives on the roof of the Swissotel produce around 20 kilograms of honey, which is used in his Ten Stories restaurant.Credit:Peter Rae

Mr Pugliano refines the honey with truffles, smoked bacon, gold and lemon myrtle – which is used in dishes such as Wagyu beef bresaolo, miso marinated kingfish and honeycomb crunch gelato.

“The supplier’s honey is a mix of different batches mixed into one,” he said. “Our roof honey is pure, unfiltered and not mixed.”

Mr Pugliano also said that the taste of the honey also depends on the time of year and the location of the bees.

“Being so close to the Royal Botanic Gardens, bees visit this area frequently, so you’re sure to taste fruity undertones of berries, plums and passion fruit,” he said.

Mr. Wilson is a member of Sydney Bee Rescue, a group of beekeepers who rescue bee colonies from vulnerable locations.

“I know where each of my hives came from, and I’ve grown a lot on my bees,” he said. “Like anyone who cares for animals, I get nervous and concerned when I think the bees are sick or have problems.”

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Wilson said the rooftop beehives allow the hotel to be “real city farmers,” with each of its four beehives producing around 20 kilograms of honey.

“It’s rare to be able to produce usable amounts of food in the city, and that’s exactly what these hives do,” he said.

Climate change and habitat loss from urbanization are putting pressure on bee populations, Wilson said.

“With the loss of flowers, fauna has also declined, including pollinators from these areas,” he said. “We are also experiencing increasing climatic fluctuations, which have devastating consequences for pollinators, especially bees.”

Mr Wilson said the early spring weather in winter caused bees to build up populations and then starve to death due to lack of food.

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“Bushfires and floods are destroying habitats, and the recent wet summer has resulted in significant beehive losses due to starvation when bees cannot leave the beehive for long periods of time,” he said. “Simply put, it’s a tough time being a bee.”

Mr Wilson said efforts to “green” urban areas also required the reintroduction of pollinators to support green roofs and urban gardens.

“The bees on the roof of the Swissotel in central Sydney move within a five-kilometer radius of the beehive and pollinate the flora in this area,” he said. “When the beehives are strongest in spring and summer, that brings 80,000 pollinators back into an area.”

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