Homeowners prepare to show off their homes for Bendigo Sustainable House Day

As the flowers burst into bloom in Paul Lamb’s garden the Maiden Gully homeowner knows it will only be a matter of time before he again taps his hives for rich, amber honey.

The hives would be among the features members of the public could see this Sunday when Mr Lamb’s doors were thrown open as part of wider Bendigo Sustainable House Day celebrations.

The day was being organised by the Bendigo Sustainability Group and would see open homes, talks and workshops to inspire homeowners and renters.

Mr Lamb had three beehives in his backyard, two of which were ‘flow hives’.

“Flow hives are new invention by some fellas from Australia who decided to make bee keeping a little bit more ‘bee-friendly’,” he said.

The invention allowed honey to be extracted without the need for hives to be opened, meaning there were less stressed and less dead bees.

Mr Lamb had been developing his Maiden Gully block into a small slice of sustainable paradise for about a decade.

“I came back to Australia from Scotland in 2005 and my aim was always to build an energy efficient house,” he said.

“This house is quite modest in size. It’s double-glazed throughout. It’s facing roughly north with a veranda so that in summer as little of the sun comes in as possible. In winter the sun’s lower so it comes in and warms the house up.”

The house had no air-conditioning. Instead it had very good insulation, fans and a heat-exchange water heater.

The property also boasted solar panels and a three kilowatt back-up battery system. 

Outside were native plants, an orchard, beehives and, in the back shed, an aquaponics system connected to garden beds bursting with fruits and vegetables.

“There’s no dirt in those garden beds at all. It’s all just gravel,” he said, explaining fish effluent from silver perch in a nearby water tank helped provide nutrients to plants.

Water from the fish tank was pumped through the garden beds. The gravel filtered the water.

“Once the water has gone through these grow beds it is fresh and can go straight back into the fish tank. There’s very little loss of water,” Mr Lamb said.

BSG event organiser Liz Martin said other homes on show for Bendigo Sustainable House Day included an 1890s cottage with a north-facing extension out the back, a straw bale home and a number of passive homes.

"We also have something for renters this year. We have someone who is growing their own greens in the back yard, all in recycled wicking box workshops on the day," she said.

For more information on Bendigo Sustainable House Day visit www.bsg.org.au