Single-source honey putting community and sustainability next to sweetness.
WHO Nic Dowse, an urban beekeeper, is an architect by trade. His fascination with bees began with an interest in animal architecture, specifically the magic of the hive. He began researching bee culture, attended a beekeeping course, and set up his first inner-city hive in Melbourne in late 2013. Now Dowse keeps busy with his three-tiered business Honey Fingers, making small-batch honey in his Carlton kitchen, curating exhibitions focused on bee culture and running an urban beekeeping collective.
WHAT Honey Fingers has 14 hives in domestic gardens in Carlton, Coburg, Brunswick, North Fitzroy and North Melbourne, producing 20 varieties of honey. The honey from each suburb has its own flavour. The bees in North Melbourne waggle-dance to and from lavender, making a sweeter, more fragrant variety that's lighter in appearance than, say, honey made by North Fitzroy bees, which prefer spotted gum, resulting in a darker appearance and more intense woody flavour. "We don't mix batches," he says. "As soon as the hives are full, we rob the honey."
WHY Australia has the largest standing wild bee population in the world; 70 per cent of swarms are wild and the remaining 30 per cent are farmed commercially. Dowse hopes to change this statistic in favour of urban farming. He wants to raise awareness about bees in innovative ways, which so far has meant collaborating with local artists to design custom hives and hosting talks at Canberra's Hotel Hotel. But in the end, he says, it all comes down to the honey. "Nothing beats a good slice of toast with butter and our honey."
WHERE Honey Fingers honey is available from Pidapipò Gelateria, Baker D Chirico, Cibi and Minanoie in Melbourne, $15 for 230gm. honeyfingers.com.au