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One of Bees Up Top’s hives atop another Auckland building

Liquid gold, with a mission

LIVING Bees Up Top’s honeys have one of the best brand stories we’ve come across—and they taste spectacularly, too, writes Jack Yan
Photographed by Joel McDowell and Tracey Creed




Tracey Creed

Bethells Valley honey is just one of the unique honeys on offer by Bees Up Top

Jack Yan is publisher of Lucire.


There might only be one Commonsense store in Auckland, but it is the only one that sells honey from Bees Up Top, a venture founded by Jessie Baker and Luke Whitfield.

Their beehives are based atop different parts of Auckland, and each of the honeys they collect has a distinct, unique flavour. A Karagahape Road honey is totally different from a Viaduct honey—and they have more located in Parnell, Ponsonby, Bethells and Coatesville. The honey goes straight into their jars with no pasteurization.

The bees have their own story, too. Bees Up Top’s swarms are all rescued by Baker and Whitfield, who are in touch with local exterminators. They head to rescue them first, and they are then taken to Bees Up Top’s Bethells Beach Bee Sanctuary for rehabilitation.

The duo are American Foulbrood- and DECA-certified. They want to help the bees and are very clear they aren’t pursuing the manuka honey gold mine that so many others do—their first duty is to help honey bees survive and thrive, especially in an environment where so many are harmed by pesticides. After all, a third of our food is pollinated by bees, so without them, our survival is seriously in question.

Having said that, there is a Bethells Valley manuka honey, but we really like the taste of the Karangahape Road variety, made by bees that forage from clover, flax and kowhai plants in Auckland’s Western Park and Myers Park. The Viaduct honey’s bees forage around the city and has pohutukawa hues.

Given the need to be local, Bees Up Top isn’t available at other Commonsense stores, so Aucklanders are especially privileged, though you can order from Bees Up Top online at their website,

Baker is very passionate, as we witnessed, and is the sort of woman who grabs opportunities with both hands. This one came because she took a beekeeping course seven years ago and became hooked on it; since then, Bees Up Top has supplied hives to urban areas—you can rent hives from them and make your own honey—and educated people on bees and their colonies. Responses to website questions come quickly and with trade-mark enthusiasm, and you can also expect that same love and care to have gone into the product. •


Baker and Whitfield tend to two of their urban rooftop hives





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