Ballantynes Rooftop Bees: What’s the buzz?

Ballantynes staff check out the bees. David from the Finance team meets the bees for the first time, with Mark from Maintenance and Jeff Robinson our specialist bee keeper.

At Retail NZ, we love when retailers give that extra oomph, and that’s just what you’ll find at Ballantynes, a vibrant Christchurch department store established in 1854. Did you know the rooftop is home to honey bees?

A member of the Ballantynes team gives us the buzz!

How did Ballantynes’ Rooftop Bees begin?

Our staff members always come up with fantastic ideas! Mark, our Maintenance Manager, had this fantastic idea, and everyone else loved it – so we did it.

Four hives were installed in December 2014. Carefully positioned on the northern side of our roof, they are sheltered, happy and producing… so much so – we increased our hives to eight. And now approximately 80,000 bees call the Ballantynes roof home!

We are told that our bees will venture within about a 5km radius of their Ballantynes rooftop home and that it is most likely that the Christchurch Botanical Gardens is their preferred place for pollen gathering.

What was the main motivation to start the Rooftop Bees?

Mark saw success with hives in his local area, so he felt that the roof was the perfect space for us to set up a home for some Ballantynes Bees. We are genuinely very proud of our bees. We love the idea, and we love that we are helping to do our bit for the environment. We just feel we are doing our little bit to help Mother Nature along. The bonus to doing this is that we harvest the most amazing honey, and the products we make from them.

What’s the outcome?


Our Ballantynes branded honey has become very popular and often sells out. Our Chefs in the Ballantynes in-house production kitchens are loving the honey in their cooking, and favour honey over sugar. They’ve also created all sorts of delights, from cacao chunk honey bee balls to Dutch Honey Cake and Nut – pop crackle snap – delicious!

The Cantabrian community has given Rooftops Bees overwhelming support, and Ballantynes is a good example of creating an innovative plan (thanks Mark and co!), and making it happen!

Sweet work, Ballantynes!

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