HK Honey is an organisation of Hong Kong Beekeepers, Artists & Designers who aim to communicate the value of bees to the human food chain. They produce local honey, beeswax products and run beekeeping workshops.
On a recent visit to Hong Kong we visited the product designer and founder of HK Honey Michae Leung at Shanghai Street Studios. We talked about the work that happens there, product design and manufacture in and around Shanghai Streets, the ideas behind his HKSalt project (a project inspired by Gandhi’s salt march of the 1920’s) and his experience working as a designer, beekeeper and urban farmer high above one of the world’s busiest and most diverse cities in the world.
The sheer amount this guy gets up to it’s no surprise he finds an affinity with the hardest working creatures on the planet.
Western beekeepers seem a little hysterical. With their netting and gloves and beekeepers’ hats and smokers. Rural beekeepers in China adopt a more Taoist method: Stay calm, move slowly, and leave the protective gear behind. HK Honey, keeps bee farms on rooftops throughout Hong Kong. The goal, says Michael (who has only been stung a few times), is to reacquaint city dwellers with nature, one hive at a time.
Urban beekeeping is happening and encouraged in cities all around the world. Once you begin to learn about the workings of the hive for the production of honey and the instinctive cast system that has worked for between 40–100 billion years; the fascination with this group of social insects or superorganism become infectious.
Beekeeping has been recorded in written form in Ireland from as early as 600-700AD; The World History of Beekeeping and Honey Hunting is worth a read; you can find it here on google books; it has examples of bees linked with international trade and commerce dotted through history.
We are inextricably linked to the honey bee population who’ve lived through it all, co-operating and providing for the group as a group and to protect the next generation
at all costs. There is a lot to be learned from the lessons of beekeeping and it connects us with our natural world in a very surprising way.
Photos by Glenn Eugen Ellingsenlen