Sweet plan to help homeless

By Michael Hayward

Put beehives on roofs and allow the homeless to collect the honey is an unusual plan floated by a group of business students. Photo / File
Put beehives on roofs and allow the homeless to collect the honey is an unusual plan floated by a group of business students. Photo / File

A group of students led by a budding Kiwi entrepreneur has come up with a sky-high proposal to take the sting out of homelessness.

Their idea is to fill bare building rooftops with beehives and employ people with no home to harvest honey.

These skills could then set them up for a life in the workforce and a roof over their heads.

An international team led by Victoria University student Kate Burn developed the award-winning proposal to teach homeless people the skills to become competent beekeepers.

Businesses in city centres would then be asked to put beehives on their rooftops, to be tended by the newly trained and employed apiarists.Honey harvested would be sold, funding the enterprise.

Ms Burn said the idea looked to capitalise on the movement towards urban beekeeping.
"We sort of came across honey as a growing commodity, it was very random.

"Ms Burn's team of eight developed the idea as part of the Global Enterprise Experience (GEE) business competition.

Students from all around the world are put into geographically disparate teams. They then develop a business proposal using the internet to collaborate.

This year's theme was social cohesion, and Ms Burn's team settled on homeless as a group to target.

"We thought, what's a group in the global society that needs to be brought back into the community and really integrated?"

She said the proposal was put together with Johannesburg, South Africa, in mind, but it could work all around the world.

"It took a while - it was not something that just happened overnight. We had a lot of discussion and a lot of research into what was possible."

Ms Burn's team won the competition.GEE director Deb Gilbertson said the concept stood out because it was "absolutely doable".

"They produced a proposal where you could push a button and make social cohesion happen."

But Ms Burn said the team had no plan to put the scheme into action.

"I've been thinking about it a lot and it's potential here in New Zealand.

"She thinks the capital could be a good site.

"In Wellington, there are some beehives going on top of businesses and I think there is really the potential to make a bit of a social movement around it, and get these people who could really benefit from being involved through the employment and training."

- Newstalk ZB

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