On this sunny Autumn afternoon, the temperature is still tipping towards the higher end of the twenties. The courtyard at the back of The Gunshop Café is buzzing with activity, as a figure dressed in a bee suit bounds up to the rooftop, followed by a number of the café’s floor staff. Returning moments later, the floor staff emerge, one by one, firmly gripping frames of unmistakable honeycomb.
They are eventually followed by Bee One Third’s co-founder, Jack Wilson Stone, a figure in a bee suit, which he now has wrapped around his waist; he is evidently hot from exerting himself under the lowering sun. Jack, 24, who lives in West End, considers himself an urban apiarist — a full-time occupation, that is by no means an easy feat. Stumbling across beekeeping accidentally, the relationship between Jack and the European Honey Bee (Apis Mellifera) began around 18 months ago, and looks to continue into the near future. “It was almost by accident. It just all happened,” Jack humbly admits, when asked how he started out as an apiarist. “It starts as a hobby; everyone starts beekeeping as a hobby.”
Coming from a hospitality background, Jack was keen to find a way to get in touch with the agricultural industry within Brisbane. “I always wanted to be a farmer.” From there, beekeeping seemed to be the obvious choice, requiring very little space, perfectly suitable for the urban environment of Brisbane and its inner suburbs. Following his introduction to beekeeping midway through 2012, Jack soon found himself with his first hive in August that same year. He now manages 30 hives across Brisbane, including the hives dotting some of West End’s rooftops at The Gunshop Café, Depo and Mandalay Technologies; while Bee One Third’s honey is also being used at the Merriweather Cafe and Jungle bar in 4101.
“It was quite an organic process,” Jack explains, as he works on the rickety honey spinner, collecting the honey stored in the wooden frames of The Gunshop Café’s rooftop hives. Deeply engrossed with the bee’s hive structure, Jack has immersed himself in the culture of bees. Seen by Jack as resembling what a perfect society would look like, the bees all work together to serve the greater good — the hive.“The bees communicate so openly because they see the growth of the hive; it rules itself efficiently and proficiently; it’s all for the ultimate purpose,” Jack animatedly explains, observing a female worker bee gathering pollen from one of the flowering bushes in the courtyard.
Travelling up to five kilometres from the hive, the European honey bee searches for the desired pollen, which provides them with their protein intake and the means to produce honey as a carbohydrate source. While all this hard work is instinctively done for the survival of the bees themselves, the honey, honeycomb, wax and royal jelly are all hugely beneficial for humans, impacting social, environmental and economical factors of our day-to-day lives.
Words by Keagan Elder | Images by Stayc Connolly