It’s all buzzing in Ponsonby

It’s hard to imagine what our world would look like without bees.

Humble Honey Soda, produced in Freemans Bay, is described as a “refreshing, naturally-derived soda that promotes wellbeing.” But what makes the drink so special? Inside every bottle of soda is two teaspoons of Kamahi honey and with every bottle that sells Humble will assist with helping bees thrive.

One of Humble’s projects is the placement of beehives all around the Auckland communities. In April, they set up their latest addition, a hive at Newton Primary School in Grey Lynn. This is the third hive they’ve put into the community, the other hives can be found at CCS Royal Oak and Green Bay Primary School in West Auckland, homes to a combined 60 - 100,000 bees.

Community education and creating awareness of the importance of bees is incredibly vital to helping their numbers bloom. As part of a nurturing program, Humble are offering opportunities to work with professional beekeepers. The programme, involves learning about bees, collecting honey and fundraising.

Humble is also running a ‘Seeds for Bees’ initiative. A packet of bee-friendly flower seeds are given away with every trial pack of Honey Soda to help increase food supplies for bees in Auckland. Such projects are important, especially in urban areas where food can be scarce.

The team at Humble aren’t the only ones concerned with the lack of food and plants in our city. A very bold plan called Pollinator Paths is the brainchild of Andrea Reid, who one day hopes to have linked the entirety of Auckland with ‘rivers of plants’, to connect the city’s existing vegetation and extend pollinator habitats.

The paths are veins of pollinating plants and flowers running throughout Auckland, encouraging bees and other pollinators to venture into more urban environments, vital for the pollination of plants and gardens situated in cities. “I have been working on this concept since early 2014,” said Andrea. “It started as a university thesis for my final year of a Bachelor’s degree and has grown into a fully fledged movement.”

The first paths will appear in Hakanoa Reserve and by Mitre 10 on Richmond Road, connecting Coxs Bay Park, Grey Lynn Park and the Northwestern Cycleway, and is split up into three main sections. The first of these is the Pollinator Wall, a cascading masonry wall that will be filled with a range of materials specifically picked to attract different pollinators. A second installation, Buzz Inn, is designed to attract bees and birds, and concept designs hope for as many as four beehives in the area. It’s not just for honeybees either; also welcome are bumblebees, solitary bees and leafcutter bees.

The final section, Butterfly Farm, will appear by Mitre 10. Like bees, butterflies play an important role in the pollination of plants and crops so it is just as important to encourage them to make their way into urban communities. The farm, a wall of swan plants, nettles and clover, will be a hub for butterflies in Grey Lynn as well as providing educational signage to show just how important these insects are in our lives.

The first paths have already received community grant funding from the Waitemata Board and they will hopefully start popping up in Grey Lynn over the following months, with construction beginning in September. Even with a full-time job on the side, Andrea is as busy as a bee and hopes to have the first path fully constructed in just one week.

The roles that bees and pollinators play are incredibly important and their survival is a vital part of keeping our cities clean, green and, most importantly, liveable. Supporting these local ideas and businesses goes a long way. Humble Honey Soda costs $5.50 a bottle and is available in several cafes around central Auckland, but the best place to buy is from the Humble Honey website - A trial crate of three bottles, a pack of Seeds for Bees and information on the Humble Movement costs just $14.99 or you can order a case of 12 bottles for $39.99, all with free delivery in the Auckland region.

Andrea is looking for business partners, local businesses and volunteers to support the Pollinator Paths project. If you would like to get involved, or just want to find out more, visit her website at (GEORGE SHIERS)