Bee on a hand

Preserving our unique Warré hive

Preserving our unique Warré hive

Cormac Farrell with Warré beehive

Cormac Farrell with the Warré beehive

One of the highlights of the Canberra beehive initiative was the receipt of a French style Warré beehive. This style of hive that has a peaked roof with no upper vents and open frames inside, allowing the bees more freedom to build their comb.

Beehives are often white; but increasingly, urban hives are painted to create a unique look. Aurecon’s Warré hive is named Girrga yabang and was painted by local indigenous artist, Krystal Hurst. The beautiful design was an instant hit and has been shared on social media worldwide.

In November 2015, we noticed that the paint was showing early signs of fading. This is not that surprising, as it had been out in the elements for over 18 months at this stage; still, concerning to us. If nothing else, it would have been disrespectful to the artist to let her hard work wear away.  

We decided to swap the painted hive body with a new one and move the artwork into our foyer as a permanent showpiece. I was fortunate to have lots of help doing the transfer, and the colony seemed to be quite happy with their new home. They immediately accepted it and started working again, thanks to their method of locking onto a specific location.

Girrga yabang now has pride of place as the centrepiece in our foyer, with a plaque explaining the significance of the images. A small amount of empty honeycomb was left attached to it as a reminder of its former inhabitants, and you can still smell the propolis (bee antibiotic glue) that coats the interior of the hive.  

In addition to providing beauty, the hive had some remarkable achievements during its productive life:

  • The capture of over 220 gigabytes of high-definition audio of the internal workings of a beehive, which has been shared internationally and is being used to drive development of Web-enabled hive sensors
  • Honey from the hive won Silver at the 2015 Royal Canberra Show
  • Produced 18 kilograms of honey and 1.5 kilograms of beeswax
  • Images of the hive received over 600 unique shares on social media worldwide
  • The hive was featured in Aurecon’s global sustainability report

We have been in contact with the artist, Krystal Hurst, and she was really happy that the hive had been recovered and was on display in the foyer. It remains one of my favourite experiences working with Aurecon: showing that functional objects can also be a thing of beauty as well as a reminder of the history and culture of Australia.

Girrga yabang 

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