Farewell to the library bees

beekeeper Cenna checking the beesIt is with heavy hearts that we advise that the Central rooftop is no longer home to our bees and their hives. Council reluctantly had to make this decision due to the forthcoming extensive building works in Te Ngākau Civic Square which will probably extend across years rather than a few months due to earthquake strengthening. This move will be for the foreseeable future, at least until the environment is more settled.

We have loved having the bees and working with Cenna Lloyd (professional beekeeper from Local Flavour Urban Honey company) who has been visiting and caring for the bees while they were part of our team!

If you are thinking of exploring adding bees to your property, here are some titles to browse:

Practical beekeeping in New Zealand, by Andrew Matheson.
This is a classic title which has just been updated in its 5th edition. This is the main local guide to keeping bees in New Zealand, and is suitable for both amateur and professional beekeepers but also the interested general reader with information about many beekeeping subjects, not only hive management.

The rooftop beekeeper : a scrappy guide to keeping urban honeybees, Megan Paska,
“This explores the ease and charm of keeping bees in an urban environment. Its approach is a practical manual – but is well illustrated, with checklists and plenty of tips and good advice. Covering all aspects of urban beekeeping, this book also includes plenty of sweet recipes for delicious treats, tonics, and beauty products to make with your honey.

Keeping bees in towns & cities, by Luke Dixon.
Keeping Bees in Towns and Cities features everything an urbanite needs to know to start keeping bees: how to select the perfect hive, how to buy bees, how to care for a colony, how to harvest honey, and what to do in the winter. Urban beekeeping has particular challenges and needs, and this book highlights the challenges and presents practices that are safe, legal, and neighbour-friendly. The text is rounded out with profiles of urban beekeepers from all over the world.” (Catalogue)

Save the bees with natural backyard hives : the easy and treatment-free way to attract and keep healthy bees, by Rob McFarland
Save the Bees offers different, easy and healthier ways to keep your own hive. Their approach is fresh, modern and easy for anyone to do. Learn step-by-step how to acquire a colony, care for it and reap the reward – that incredibly delicious, all-natural, chemical-free, unprocessed, honey.

September is Bee Aware Month

Spring is here at long last and that means it’s time to Bee Aware!
Did you know that without bee pollination we’d have no apples, blueberries, coffee, chocolate or even jeans? These are all foods and products pollinated by busy little bees and now they need our help. Not only do bees produce a wonderful, natural food source, they also play a significant role in supporting our food chain.
We want to do our part to help raise awareness for our buzzing little friends and how important they are so we’ve thrown together some tips and resources to help you get started.

These new bee books are a must see:

Syndetics book coverBackyard bees : a guide for the beginner beekeeper / Doug Purdie.
“Just about anyone can keep bees. All you need is a bit of space in your backyard (or on your rooftop) and a little love for the creatures that pollinate the vegie patches of your neighbourhood. Once introduced to the charms of beekeeping and the taste of warm honeycomb direct from the hive, you’ll be hooked. Backyard Bees is the ultimate guide to installing and maintaining a hive through the seasons. ” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverSave the bees with natural backyard hives/ Rob and Chelsea McFarland, founders of HoneyLove.org.
Save the Bees will walk readers through the inexpensive and easy to use equipment, caring for the bees as they grow their colony, harvesting honey and prepping their bees for the cooler months. With the Save the Bees approach, readers will learn to attract wild bees and with minimal upkeep, the hives will pollinate local crops and flowers and provide a bounty of delicious, all-natural, backyard honey.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe rooftop beekeeper : a scrappy guide to keeping urban honeybees / Megan Paska with Rachel Wharton 
“This useful manual, at once a good read and a pretty object, features a relatable first-person narrative, checklists, numbered how-tos, beautiful illustrations and 75 color photographs. Covering all aspects of urban beekeeping, this book also provides readers with plenty of sweet recipes for delicious treats, tonics, and beauty products to make with home-harvested honey.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverLetters to a beekeeper / Steve Benbow, Alys Fowler.
“Part beautifully designed coffee-table book, part manifesto, this collection of engaging letters, emails, texts, recipes, notes and glorious photos creates a record of the trials, tribulations, reward and joys of working with, rather than against, nature. For lazy gardeners to novice beekeepers (and everyone in between), this is the best rule-breaking, wildlife-friendly, guerilla, urban gardening insect-identifying, honey-tasting, wax-dripping, epistolary how-to book you could ever hope to own.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe urban wildlife gardener : how to attract birds, bees, butterflies, and more / Emma Hardy.
“Packed with planting ideas and simple gardening techniques to attract birds, bees, butterflies, beneficial bugs, and more to your outside space, if you would like to attract wildlife to your garden, you need to learn which plants to grow, how to provide nesting areas, when to prune shrubs or mow the grass and more.  No matter what size your outside space–from a single windowbox to a full-sized backyard, The Urban Wildlife Gardener contains hundreds of easy-to-follow tips and techniques, simple projects, and essential plant know-how.” (Adapted Syndetics summary)

Also, don’t miss the September issue of New Zealand Gardener from one of our branches or borrow an online copy through PressReader.
Wondering what happened to our Central Library rooftop bees? Don’t worry they have been hibernating all winter but will be out there looking for pollen soon so get planting.

If you want more info or want to see what’s on during Bee Aware Month, check out these websites:

Apiculture New Zealand
Bee Aware Month Facebook Page
Wellington City Council Bee Aware Month Info
Wellington Beekeepers Association
News – Dominion Post, 7 Sept 2016

So let’s all help spread the bee love and don’t forget to tag your social media posts with #beeawarenz17

Bees at the Library!

They are here! You probably read about our new resident bees up on the rooftop of the Central Library.

Dompost article

You can find the Dominion Post daily on PressReader free via our website here

Here are a few “behind the scenes” photos we took as we brought the bees in. The bees arrived in the boot of a car, tightly strapped and wrapped, making their way up the library rooftop on library trolleys… They are library bees after all!
(Click on images to enlarge)


The hives were secured to pallets we had installed some weeks before. Their little doorways were opened.

Arrival of the bees Arrival of the bees

It was very exciting to watch the first bee come out of the mysterious wooden boxes we had been peering at!

Arrival of the bees

As Cenna was watching her brood anxiously, more or more bees came out and discovered their new environment.

Arrival of the bees

Arrival of the bees Arrival of the bees
Some bees landed on our shoulders as if to say hi.

Arrival of the bees
The weather wasn’t great but everything went well and we came back to very active and happy bees a few days later.  After months of preparations, we could finally celebrate the arrival of our new residents!
Arrival of the bees

There is a buzz at the Central Library

September is Bee Aware Month and Wellington City Libraries is excited to announce a very special project that will bring a buzz to Civic Square. We wanted to do our bit to help the bee population and the invaluable work those little insects do to  contribute to our food chain. The large empty space on our rooftop seemed like an obvious place to set up some beehives.

IMG_7933After months of preparation, there was a hive of activity on the Central Library’s rooftop recently when Sarah Adams, Urban Agriculture Advisor for Wellington City Council and Cenna Lloyd, professional beekeeper from Local Flavour Urban Honey Company joined us to make space for bees that will be calling our vast roof space home in the next few weeks.

It was an exercise in preparing a welcoming and safe home for the bees that will be introduced to their new home later this Spring, once the weather is warmer and more settled.

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The hives will be sitting on a pallet that was carried up the stairs and secured to the railings. Cenna arrived with a whole bunch of bee friendly plants which we placed in a few planters around the beehive space to provide a local source of pollen.

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We are now ready for the bees and the good weather!


If you are thinking of setting up a beehive of your own in your backyard or rooftop, here are a few titles to get you started.

Syndetics book coverThe rooftop beekeeper : a scrappy guide to keeping urban honeybees
“The number of urban beekeepers has escalated with more than 25 percent increases year over year in the United States and the United Kingdom. From a go-to authority on beekeeping and backyard farming the Rooftop Beekeeper is the first handbook to explore the ease and charm of keeping bees in an urban environment. Covering all aspects of urban beekeeping, this book also provides readers with plenty of sweet recipes for delicious treats, tonics, and beauty products to make with home-harvested honey.” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverBetter beekeeping : the ultimate guide to keeping stronger colonies and healthier, more productive bees
“This book takes serious beekeepers past the beginning stages and learning curves and offers solutions and rewards for keeping bees a better way. Better queens, better winters, better food, and better bees await any beekeeper willing to take on the challenge of having the right number of bees, of the right age, in the right place, in the right condition, at the right time.” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverVictory gardens for bees : a DIY guide to saving the bees
“This book investigates the growing problem of bee mortality and offers practical measures we can all take to help. In ecological terms, bees play a critical role in the survival of many plant communities and the continuation of life on this planet. Now that bees are facing unprecedented levels of die-off caused by a toxic mixture of environmental stresses, a community-based effort is needed to make gardens, fields and landscapes healthy sanctuaries for bees. Victory Gardens for Bees is also buzzing with DIY projects that will provide nesting sites and essential supplies for precious pollinators.”(Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverSave the bees with natural backyard hives : the easy and treatment-free way to attract and keep healthy bees
“The husband-and-wife team behind the nonprofit HoneyLove make the case that beekeeping ought to be treated as more than a hobby or money-making enterprise. It is an entrance into a complex and sometimes fierce world that must be engaged and understood on its own terms.”(Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverKeeping bees and making honey / Alison Benjamin and Brian McCallum.
“You don’t need acres of secluded gardens to be able to keep bees–hives can be found on many an urban rooftop, inner-city balcony or mounted on walls in the strangest of places. Keeping Bees and Making Honey covers everything you need to consider before you set up your colony. Packed with images, information, practical advice, recipes and gardening tips, Keeping Bees and Making Honey is the ideal companion for every aspiring beekeeper.” (Syndetics)

The New Zealand Collection presents: This Week in History 15th – 21st March

“I eat my peas with honey.
I’ve done it all my life.
It makes the peas taste funny.
But it keeps them on the knife.”

This Ogden Nash quote is a clue to the ‘This Week in History’ topic. As usual this week’s selected topic comes from the Today in History page at nzhistory.net.nz. The New Zealand Collection is located on the second floor of The Central Library. Each week we feature topics in the This Week in History display in the NZ Collection.

On the 19 March 1839 Honey bees were first brought to NZ
Mary Bumby landed at the Wesleyan Mission Station at Mangungu, Hokianga, in March 1839, she brought two hives of honey bees from Sydney (where they had been established since 1822). New Zealand had native species of bees, but they were not suitable for producing honey. Mary Bumby was born at Thirsk, Yorkshire, in 1811 and she sailed for New Zealand aboard the James in September 1838. Mary kept a diary and she wrote about her first impressions of New Zealand from when she left her Yorkshire home until she became to busy when her first child was born three years later. Sadly Mary Bumby died at sea on a return voyage to England in March 1862.

There are some really interesting books about bees in the New Zealand collection but unfortunately some of the older publications do not have much information about them in the catalogue. We have a 1976 reprint of A MANUAL FOR NEW ZEALAND BEE KEEPERS that was first published in 1848 and starts with the following introduction “The following manual is intended for the use of all persons in this island who wish to keep bees, but do not like to do so, because they feel they know not where to apply for instruction.” We also have a New Zealand Department of Agriculture Bulletin titled BEEKEEPING from 1926. This one has a section on “Beekeeping for Ladies” and I guess it’s heartening to think that in 1926 the bulletin states “That there is nothing connected with bee-farming that a young women cannot accomplish”. Pictured below is a women who perhaps decided beekeeping was for her, although I’m not sure why the people either side of her have been shaded out.

women with honeycombs
Outdoors on rough ground with trees behind, an unidentified woman holding three honeycombs covered in bees, probably Christchurch region. Maclay, Adam Henry Pearson, 1873-1955 :Negatives. Ref: 1/2-163842-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/30112419

The NZ Collection also holds the 1961 edition of the Department of Agriculture bulletin No.267 BEEKEEPING IN NEW ZEALAND.
Beekeeping was an important factor in the National economy and was supported by the government who in 1905 announced it’s intention to increase the number of hives at Ruakura Apiary and for it to be run as an experimental station to keep apiarists up to date. Downloaded from Papers Past was this report from the The New Zealand Herald on the 5th September 1905.

Bee Industry

The collection holds several editions of this next book and this is the 2011 fourth edition which has been updated with information on the varroa mite and it’s effects on New Zealand beekeeping.

Syndetics book coverPractical beekeeping in New Zealand / Andrew Matheson and Murray Reid.
“For more than 25 years Practical Beekeeping in New Zealand has been the bible for New Zealand beekeepers. The only comprehensive guide to keeping bees in New Zealand, it provides both amateur and professional beekeepers with details on honey bee management throughout the year, advice on handling hive products and information about many other beekeeping subjects. As well as being a guide to beekeepers, Practical Beekeeping in New Zealand appeals to those interested in apiculture and deciding whether to keep bees, and horticulturalists and farmers find it of particular interest for crop pollination. Given New Zealand’s reputation in world beekeeping the book has also been keenly sought after by beekeepers overseas.Three editions of the book have been published since 1984. It has now been comprehensively updated to incorporate the latest information available, particularly on new approaches to beekeeping now the parasitic varroa mite has become established in New Zealand and changed the face of beekeeping forever.” (Syndetics summary)

This one is about the history of gardening in New Zealand so isn’t really about bees but bees need gardens and gardens need bees so I wanted to feature it and anyway it’s such a beautiful book. The other thing to note is that the authors name is Bee so I can claim that as a connection as well.

Syndetics book coverA history of gardening in New Zealand / Bee Dawson.
“An Englishman’s home is his castle, but for the first European settlers who came to New Zealand, their first priority was to create a productive and, later, ornamental garden. Bee Dawson traces the development of gardening in New Zealand, from the Maori gardens of pre – and early contact times through the optimistic efforts of missionaries and the other early settlers, the magnificence and productivity of the Victorians and Edwardians and the Dig for Victory campaigns of the 1940s. Illustrated throughout with historic photographs, paintings and ephemera, Dawson’s lively writing style brings to life the successes and failures and the sense of achivement felt by New Zealand gardeners through the years, as they coaxed plenty and beauty from a new earth. This book is both beautiful to look at and a delight to read.” (Syndetics summary)

The last two books are not in the New Zealand Collection but you can find them on the ground floor in the fiction collection. These are two great stories set in such very different times and places but the thing they have in common is that they both feature the life of bees as a back drop or as a parallel to the human stories. They are both great ‘bee’ inspired reads.

Syndetics book coverThe beekeeper’s pupil Sara George.
“In 1766, at the age of 15, Francois Huber learns that he is going blind. As the darkness descends, he sets his mind on an extraordinary scientific inquiry into the violent and sexually competitive world of the bee. He teaches his manservant to observe in his place and together they document their astonishing findings, with extraordinary obsessiveness and insight. Set against a backdrop of the scientific and intellectual idealism of the Enlightenment, Sara George’s fascinating new novel is a story of passion, knowledge, and human limitations.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverThe secret life of bees / Sue Monk Kidd.
“Lily has grown up believing she accidentally killed her mother when she was four. She not only has her own memory of holding the gun, but her father’s account of the event. Now fourteen, she yearns for her mother, and for forgiveness. Living on a peach farm in South Carolina with her father, she has only one friend: Rosaleen, a black servant whose sharp exterior hides a tender heart. South Carolina in the sixties is a place where segregation is still considered a cause worth fighting for. When racial tension explodes one summer afternoon, and Rosaleen is arrested and beaten, Lily is compelled to act. Fugitives from justice and from Lily’s harsh and unyielding father, they follow a trail left by the woman who died ten years before. Finding sanctuary in the home of three beekeeping sisters, Lily starts a journey as much about her understanding of the world, as about the mystery surrounding her mother.” (Syndetics summary)