Classical music greets you as you step into the humble interior of Brunswick East’s Bee Sustainable, a shop dedicated to do-it-yourself artisan food preparation. The neat timber shelves hold a trove of local, organic produce: olive oil from the Great Ocean Road area; Eden seeds; beeswax candles; and honey pots by ceramicist Jade Thorsen. In the centre of the store are several 10-gallon silver drums of Victorian and Tasmanian honey. The staff offer teaspoon tasters of each one – stringybark; leatherwood; macadamia; orange blossom; and sugar gum.
Robert Redpath, the son of a honey merchant, founded Bee Sustainable in 2011 as a hobbyist beekeeping shop, selling Apis melifera – or European honey – bees, equipment and hosting workshops and tastings. The store’s concept quickly expanded as Redpath recognised an increase in local beekeeping, which resulted in more pollination and thus more produce.
"I sell some 50 or so bee hives each year,” says Redpath. "Bee-keeping is the perfect hobby … We can quickly learn to manage a hive but spend the rest of our lives gaining an understanding of their complex behaviours." Bee Sustainable now sells flour mills and oat rollers, as well as equipment for cheese-making, beer-brewing, fermentation and bee-keeping – suitable for both the novice and the experienced. Customers come into the shop to have their oats rolled or flour milled, intermittently disrupting the music with the rhythmic hum of the machinery.
Redpath’s enthusiastic and didactic conversation is not the only educational tool that Bee Sustainable offers. Apart from a well-curated selection of DIY books, there are numerous workshops run by skilled and passionate staff including classes on cheese-making, fermentation, and bread-making. Would you like to learn to bake sourdough or Danish dark rye? Either is available here.
500 Lygon Street, Brunswick East
(03) 9939 7301
Mon to Fri 10am–7pm