Urban beekeeping is on the rise as backyards in the Bay become home to an increasing number of hives.

Chris Mitchell from Seaside Bees at Papamoa said it had about 50 beehives around Tauranga that the company rented out.

Urban beekeeping is becoming popular, he says as more people decided to give it a go.
It charged $600 a year which included looking after the bees, maintenance and regulatory obligations and business was growing.

His partner Silvana Nieto says ironically most people and families that got into urban beekeeping "do it for the bees".

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"Then they get the bonus of the honey and beeswax."

The bee season typically started in December and went through to March, she says.

"That is when they produce the most honey. In February it starts going down as they bring in less nectar and pollen. In the off season they fly less as it gets dark early and they stay in the hive more."

In the winter Chris says they tried not to supplement the bees.

"Here at sea level people have camellias in their garden so there is plenty of food to gather."

People made products like lip balm and boot polish while the national average honey haul was about 30 kilos per hive, he says.

"We have hives that have basically done zero and others that have done double the average. When you just have one single hive there is not really any guarantee. And some people that have hives up high like the top of Ohauiti Rd or Omanawa Rd may struggle as it's quite cold up there in winter.

"But hives down at sea level in the Mount and at Bayfair they have been going bananas," he says.

The hives themselves were also quite fascinating and he held regular beginner workshops and had just finished a Lets Learn taste seminar in conjunction with Community Education Bay of Plenty that 12 people attended.

"The first third of the hive is the nursery and the next generation.

"Bees live for about six weeks in summer and everyday the queen lays about 2000 eggs.
"The second third of the hive is the honeycomb that we leave in the winter to feed them while the third part of the hive is what we harvest."

Interesting bee facts

* Bees can recognise individual human faces, an ability long-believed to be exclusive to large-brained mammals.
* Bees have been producing honey for at least 150 million years.
* Honey bees have two stomachs — one is an ordinary stomach, the other is called a honey stomach.
* Most native NZ bees nest underground.
* Native NZ female bees construct the nests in which their young are raised by digging into the soil or using pre-existing tunnels in plant material.
* A queen lays about 2000 eggs a day.