Sky-high beekeeping and small-scale farming no problem for inner-city Brisbane

In the city, space is a premium - especially space that could grow a garden.

But there's a growing movement of urban farmers and gardeners who want Brisbane's city dwellers to understand that any space is enough to grow vegetables and even raise bees - from backyards and verges to balconies and rooftops.

Urban beekeeper Jack Stone and gardener James Blyth both came back to Brisbane after time overseas with myriad ideas about improving the city's urban gardening culture.

Mr Stone founded his company Bee One Third with a friend in 2012, putting beehives on the roofs of local businesses to bring more bees into the city.

Five years later, looking after the 150 hives he now has around greater Brisbane and northern New South Wales is a full-time job.

"Often people who have these buildings don't quite know how to best utilise them," Mr Stone said.

But for the cafes and corporate companies that now host beehives, Mr Stone said they have found it very rewarding.

"They produce about 200 kilograms (of honey) per hive per year, which allows them to do quite a bit from their rooftop," he said.

"Instead of giving out a branded pen they give a 500-gram jar of honey to their most-cherished customers."

Mr Blyth started an urban farming co-operative before pausing the project while he takes a gardening class at Bulimba State School, said rooftop gardens are a great idea but there is plenty of other space people can use if they want to start their own vegie patch.

"You don't need much space at all, it all depends on how much food you'd like to grow of course," he said.

"A lot of people, they'll plant a garden out and let it sprawl all over their garden horizontally - you can imagine a cucumber vine or pumpkin that grows and takes a lot of space - but if you can train that to grow vertically it takes almost none."

Mr Blyth said it was even possible to grow vegetables on balconies, and that method even had some benefits.

"If you grow your herbs and greens they're very shallow-rooted, you don't need much soil," he said.

"Sometimes it's better; you don't have as many pests if you're up high on a balcony."

These small gardens have another bonus: they provide food for all the urban bees.

"Here in the city there are people from different cultures living in a highly populated, densely packed area," Mr Stone said.

"Every single one of those people is going to either have a front garden, have a back garden, or plants on their porch.

"So there turns out to be within a five-kilometre radius of each of our beehives here in the inner city - which is how far bees fly, five kilometres from their hive to collect food - there turns out to be a plethora of food for the bees, and a really diverse and eclectic range of food for the bees to eat."

And while commercial beekeepers in the country need to move their hives every two or three months, Mr Stone said his inner-city hives can stay put.

"The bees live here year-round, they understand their environment, they understand their area ... and they search those areas out," he said.

For people wanting to experiment with a small urban garden, Mr Blyth said he definitely recommended growing greens.

"The more we can grow at least our greens in the city, that's a huge saving in fossil-fuel emissions for all the transport," he said.

"It's really fast growing, it doesn't take a lot of space, and it makes a lot of sense because the fresher it is the better it tastes."

This story Sky-high beekeeping and small-scale farming no problem for inner-city Brisbane first appeared on Brisbane Times.