The honey trap

How far would you go for the perfect pot of honey? JENNIFER TANNER investigates.

The sound of their buzz is almost deafening as they make their way through the honeycomb. Bees are coming from all directions, and each individual becomes indistinguishable as it melds into its neighbour to form one big, black mass.

This scene might seem like something out of a nightmare to the average person, but it's just a normal afternoon for the ANU Apiculture Society.

Dressed somewhat like astronauts getting ready to touch down on a foreign planet, they are calm and collected as they approach the hive and gently smoke the bees out of their honeycomb hideout.


"Bees are fascinating," says Nick Mortimer, who has managed to find time in between doing his master's degree in anthropology to establish the society.

"I founded the Apiculture Society as a way to bring together staff and students who have an interest in bees. It's a way to normalise bees in our environment as well.

"Bees, and the honey they produce, are sort of a reflection on the environment that we live in, and I want people to think about ANU as not just a place for study and for research but actually as a functioning ecosystem."

Dr David Irving, a lecturer at the ANU School of Music, has taken beekeeping on board.

"When I was flying over to Australia from England to take up my current position,  I saw an amazing documentary which really hammered home to me the importance of investing in research into bees and getting more people into beekeeping," he says.

"As soon as I arrived  I joined  the Beekeepers Association of the ACT and then I heard about Nick and his wonderful project with the ANU Apiculture  Society. I got involved to meet more people who have a real passion for the environment and sustainability and to also really connect with the beautiful nature that we have here at ANU."

The Society is a year old and the hives have only been going for a few months, but Mortimer has big plans.

"One of the goals of the society is to produce enough honey to sell back to cafes and restaurants on campus. We are hoping to auction off our first lot of honey this year and people will be able to find out what ANU tastes like."

Join the ANU Apiculture Society.

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This article appeared in ANU Reporter magazine Autumn 2014. Subscribe for free now.