Bees and honey! One of our members, Rosa, became an amateur apiarist, somewhat by default. She decided on this new skill when an unexpected swarm located on her Tynong cattle property.
For our April farm visit we gathered around her display of wooden hive boxes, smoker, bottles of extracted honey and her amazing protective suit, to hear the story. There were many facts about these amazing insects. It was a highly informative and inspiring farm visit.
Rosa found willing help from an experienced local bee keeper who was happy to mentor her, and she joined West Gippsland Beekeepers Inc, a not-for-profit community group. Their broad aim is to encourage people to become involved in beekeeping by sharing knowledge, experience and resources.
Queen bees can live up to 5 years, laying 1000 eggs daily. The worker bees, by contrast live up to 40 days, after the maximum 20 days they take to hatch. A hive is very well structured to ensure that its members entail workers, genetic sources, nurse bees and hive builders. The workers foraging for suitable flowers can range up to 5 km from their hives.
With massive almond orchards growing by the hectare up in far NW Victoria, the need for pollination has increased public awareness of orchardist demands for active swarms to get to work. No pollination, no almonds, no honey! Simple!
Anyone who keeps one or more hives of bees in Victoria must register with Agriculture Victoria as a beekeeper. Registration is free for small enterprises and hobbyists with 5 or fewer hives. It enables the department to conduct disease prevention and control .This includes disseminating helpful information including legislative amendments and biosecurity alerts and advice. There are around fifty such registered beekeepers in the Warragul area.
Our session ended with watching a frame of honey being emptied and strained, then a sweet tasting. Many bought honey from Rosa, confident it was both pure and local.