Beef farmer working to bring back native grasslands
from brink of extinction
Beef farmer Drew Gailey is working to protect native grasslands in northern Victoria.Drew Gailey loves farming and also his land.
He bought a property on the Patho Plains in northern Victoria 10 years ago.It came with a Conservation Covenant on the title that protects all the native vegetation on the land.
Over the past year, Mr Gailey has been working with Trust for Nature, a conservation organisation, to plant and help revive lost populations of spiny rice-flower and turnip copperburr.
New seed source
Mr Gailey is hopeful the new plantings on his property will be a new seed source for the region and for others across the state.
"Spiny rice-flower is a shrub and lives up to 100 years and grows up to about 50 centimetres," he said."[It] has a really pretty yellow flower between April and August. "And the turnip copperburr grows about 30cm high and is part of the saltbush family – there's less than 1 per cent of their original population left."
Mr Gailey has been involved with the local Landcare group for almost 30 years, is part of the Northern Plains Conservation Management Network and said grasslands are rich with history and biodiversity.
"The biodiversity in grasslands is as good as any rainforest, if you get a good grassland, with the diversity of species and the way they're structured."
Local flora and fauna
Mr Gailey took over the property about 10 years ago and has been working hard to collect seeds and restore the local flora and fauna.
We had the opportunity to head to a few tree plantings over the Winter - within the city of Perth as well as one in Quairading.
Rotary and local community groups have been planting in Quairading since the late 1990's, reclaiming salt effected lands and increasing the health of soil and biodiversity. We've had so much fun over the years heading out for the day for plantings and fellowship with our Rotarian friends, usually in our gumboots but sunshine on our backs.
From Dr Alan Briggs:
Quairading Rotary tree planting annual event: 9000 seedlings planted!
QRC organised the tree planting east of the Quairading airport then west of the Community reserve to finish planting 9,000 seedlings to help reduce the impacts of erosion and salinity around Quairading. Has been planting trees around the town since 1998 and the results are impressive. Local farmer, Glynn, spoke of the positive effects the plantings had had on his land. He was more than pleased to make land available for this year’s planting event.
QRC President Pauline Wray welcomed the planters and thanked all members for the excellent coordination and catering, and recognised treemission for its support. treemission Chair Alan Briggs outlined the goals of treemission: inform Rotarians about what is happening in the environment, what they can do and to organise activities such as tree planting. He expressed appreciation to QRC for it excellent and long-standing tree planting initiatives.
On hand was Tristan Campbell to launch his company Honey I’m Home’s sponsorship of treemission. Make sure you buy his honey!
We build on existing conservation areas in Australia to reconnect ecosystems from the wet forests in the South West to the woodlands and mallee near the dry inland, restoring ecosystem function and supporting the recovery of flora and fauna, like Carnaby’s Cockatoo, in critical biodiversity hotspots. Our diverse collaborative community works across thousands of kilometers to restore strategically located marginal farmlands with native plant species, practice and promote ecological and culturally sensitive fire management, support First Nations' land management, and more (excerpt from: UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration).
The southwestern corner of Australia is internationally recognised as a biodiversity hotspot, partly because of its species diversity, but also because those species and communities are being lost to a host of environmental assaults. Two-thirds of the vegetation in south-western Australia has been cleared. Over much of the agricultural region, many areas have less than 5-10% of their original bushland left.
Even the largest patches of bush are unable to guarantee the survival or continued evolution of species if they remain isolated from each other within ecologically hostile landscapes where key ecological processes are no longer functioning.
Many bird and animal species have been reduced to small isolated populations that are under continual stress. With birds, scientists predict we could lose 50% of the remaining species from the main agricultural areas within 50 years. For example, the Western Whipbird is now virtually extinct in the main ‘wheatbelt’ and only occurs in the larger south coast remnants. The Western Ground Parrot, a species dependant on long unburnt habitat, is down to a total population of about 100 birds. As far back as 1978, the WA Museum reported that only one reserve in the southern ‘wheatbelt’ was considered large enough to retain its current assemblage of mammals in the long term.
Until these areas are reconnected they will continue to lose even ‘common’ species.
“Reconnected country, from the karri forests of the far south-west to the woodland and mallee bordering the Nullarbor, in which ecosystem function and biodiversity are restored and maintained.”
Only across one part of south-western Australia is the basic ecological integrity and connectivity that supported the proliferation of the south-west’s biological magnificence almost still intact. Along 1000kms we already have over 900kms of intact habitat, much managed as national Park and Nature reserve.
The biggest “breaks” along this 1000kms are in the areas either side of Stirling range national park – through to the Forests and the Fitzgerald, and south to the Porongurups. Much of these gaps in the Link were only cleared 50-60 years ago and that makes effective restoration easier to achieve than elsewhere.
We can reconnect these critical bushland areas and strengthen the connection with the inland. This will restore ecological connectivity and, in the cleared areas, restore land that is too fragile to farm. We will have, stretching over 1000kms, a series of core wilderness areas, linked by continuous belts of habitat and surrounded by supportive land uses.
Ecological resilience: Our ecological systems are changing drastically. Lots of existing species will be lost, a tough fact we all have trouble getting used to. But if we can retain the inherent qualities of key systems – their ability to adapt and make the most of changed circumstances – then at least those systems have a good chance of surviving and adapting, along with many of the species they hold. It’s from those systems that the natural world will renew itself.
Leading by example: In a world that can seem paralysed by the immensity of the ecological and energy challenges facing us, it is important for individuals, groups and communities to tackle what they can. Being fundamentally strategic, breaking immense problems into ambitiously achievable chunks, showing real progress, and then getting more strategic and ambitious, is what we can all do. We hope that our work in Western Australia will inspire locals and Australians in other areas too.
Gondwana Link is specifically designed to seize our best chance of retaining resilient ecological systems across a key spectrum of Australian habitats – addressing current ecological decline while significantly mitigating the impacts of accelerated climate change and learning how to best sequester carbon in both natural and restored habitats.
The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration is a rallying call for the protection and revival of ecosystems all around the world, for the benefit of people and nature. It aims to halt the degradation of ecosystems, and restore them to achieve global goals. Only with healthy ecosystems can we enhance people’s livelihoods, counteract climate change, and stop the collapse of biodiversity.
The UN Decade runs from 2021 through 2030, which is also the deadline for the Sustainable Development Goals and the timeline scientists have identified as the last chance to prevent catastrophic climate change.
The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed the UN Decade following a proposal for action by over 70 countries from all latitudes. View the resolution here.
Led by the United Nations Environment Programme and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, The UN Decade is building a strong, broad-based global movement to ramp up restoration and put the world on track for a sustainable future. That will include building political momentum for restoration as well as thousands of initiatives on the ground.
Through communications, events and a dedicated web platform, the UN Decade will provide a hub for everyone interested in restoration to find projects, partners, funding and the knowledge they need to make their restoration efforts a success.
Find out how you can take part in the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.
This sunshine is fabulous and the bees are happy and healthy! We have made lots of new nucleus hives - mini beehives - and they are all starting to grow into big girl hives.
Callistemon (bottlebrush) and Agonis flexuosa (native peppermint) is in full bloom and creating a dark, tangy urban honey that will be available in the next week or so.
We have HONEYCOMB back in stock now! I am cutting some beautiful fresh frames from Watheroo this afternoon, so head in from tomorrow for your yummy piece of honeycomb - perfect for tasting boards, cake toppers, deserts or just with a spoon!
We have scheduled our Kids Holiday classesagain for this Thursday. We have space in our under 6's class, so if you are looking for something to do with your littlie - come see us!
We also have our beekeeping'Meet the Bees' experiences scheduled over the next month or so - so if you are looking for an early Christmas present for that hard to buy for person, or looking to get into bees and want to see if it for you, book here!
This year Bees2Honey Inc created an amazing Honey Month calendar, with over 30 different events over the month, smashing the previous record from 2017 of 10 events! Many of these events were well attended, and more effort next year will be put into marketing these, with increasing success we hope!
After the long running success of the Honey Festival hosted by The House of Honey in Swan Valley, and a new city location in Perth for 2018 hosted by Honey, I’m Home, Bees2Honey accepted the invitation from Gidgegannup Small Farm Field Day to head up the hill and unite under their banner. The Bees2Honey committee felt that this new location would appeal to a broad public interest; current small land holders, those seeking a ‘tree’ change, and members of the public interested in having a ’day out in the country’.
The Festival was greeted warmly, both metaphorically by the amazing committee of the SFFD and literally with the weather gods smiling on us for Festival Day! The sunshine was beeautiful (excuse the pun) with volunteers setting up most of the tents on the Saturday before, facilitated by Emma Leyland, Barry and Debbie Stallman. The new Festival location was nestled under the trees, and with the birds singing on the crisp autumn morning, and everyone setting up their tables, we had a good number of stall holders head up to be with us – both favourites from years past, and a number of new vendors.
The Honey Competition had been judged the day before, by Joy Coy and Brian Wickens, assisted by Tom Coy and Adriana Wickens with an good turn-out for honeys, however, slightly less entries for beeswax entries than previous years. Joy and Brian spent the day judging, hosted by The House of Honey, with both judges impressed with the quality of entries. In fact, there was only a few points between the winning honeys, however Bert Valenti took out the award for ‘Best in Show 2019’ with his Dark Honey entry.
Chef Dale Sniffen once again came to judge the Cake Competition, and although the entries were lower than anticipated, Chef Dale commented on the high quality of entries and how pleased he was with them. Chef Dale enjoyed developing the recipe for the honey inspired cakes this year, and is looking forward to participating again next year.
We provided two speakers for the Sustainability Marquee within the main Showground area for the SFFD – Luke de Laeter and Kit Pendergast. Luke is ‘a teenage beekeeper who is sharing his passion for bees and the environment through presenting a unique Bee Incursion Program’ who packed out the tent with his demonstration. Kit presented her research on Native Bees and their importance as pollinators and spoke to a full house as well, demonstrating the public interest in bees, pollinators and their importance to our biodiversity and food security.
The Slow Food Movement Long Table Lunch was a great success – honey themed and delicious. Rupert Phillips was invited as the guest beekeeper speaker and was his usual engaging self! We also had the Bee Firm Nrg drink team and their adreniline-filled bike display, and Mark Stafford from Ezyloader doing a demo with his loading equipment.
Our major sponsor, Capilano, supported the Festival once more, supplying much needed funds for flyers, marketing, flags and a big truck to move all the things from place to place. Without their support, the Festival could not go ahead. Our sincere thanks to Michael Bellmen for advocating for the funds personally and Capilano for ensuring this much needed support in an economic climate when sponsorships are difficult to secure.
Our thanks to our other faithful sponsors for our raffle prizes, Guilfoyles and Nuplas. Coming on board this year with raffle donations were: Mandurah Pandora with a fabulous bee pendant and Raelene’s Gone Potty with a crafty bee pot. Honey I’m Home Produce donated the honey jars that were sold again this year with our thanks.
To the Gidgegannup Small Farm Field Day who invited us up to join their Show and to our volunteers who came and pitched in over the weekend, we thank you very much. A big shout out to our young people who volunteered – aka mummy made us – and to Emma Leyland who stood in for her mum for bump in!
And of course, none of Honey Month or the Festival could be possible without the dedicated committee who brings all of the Month and Festival together. A huge thanks to Kate, Tina, Kim, Julie, Leilani, Debbie, Christine for your time and effort over the last eight months!
A special thanks must be made to Leilani Leyland, who organized a huge amount of the back end details before heading off for a well earnt holiday. She made so much of the day come together, and worked with the SFFD committee extensively. Such a good job was done, that much of my day was spent telling people ‘I’m not sure, Leilani organized it…’ haha.
Even with a few teething issues being in a new space this year, the Festival came together very well. We very much appreciated the new space, the wonderful weather and the amazing people who came to learn about bees, honey and beekeeping. We look forward to the Festival next year with new stall holders, expanded honey tent and lots more!
It's a bit chilly folks! My bet is that most of you are drinking more tea, eating more carbs and rugging up with the doonas! And with with the cold, comes a time when the honey will start to harden, known as crystallization, granulation or candying.
I often get asked why it 'candies'; it is a quite a misunderstood phenomenon. Some people question whether this process means that it is an inferior product, poor quality or storage, or that it has been processed in some way. It is not. It is not off, it hasn't gone bad, so please do not chuck it out!! Crystallization is completely natural, and remember that honey never goes off. The oldest honey that was still edible found was 60,000 years old - we will all be heads in jars before the honey goes off!
All raw honey will candy over time. Some on-comb inside the hive (such as a clover or canola) and others take many years, if at all (such as Jarrah). Honey is dehydrated nectar (which is ~80% water). The bees dehydrate it to between ~12-16% water, the rest of the honey being combination of naturally occuring sugars (fructose and glucose). The granulation of honey occurs when the saturation of glucose within the remaining water of the honey has occurred and there is an overabundance of glucose molecules in the honey that form crystals.
Because of the slightly different chemical compositions of different nectars, each honey is slightly different in the resulting balance of natural sugars. Those with a slightly higher glucose amount will candy faster. Raw honeys generally have a low GI index of 28-32, whereas a homogenized/pasteurized (heated) honey will be about 65-75. Heating honey will delay the granulation of honey, not erase it completely. Heating does degrade the micro-nutrients and pollens that are in the honey, and the other qualities that make it a healthy sugar alternative.
The quality of crystallized honey does not change, only the texture. Some people actually prefer the grainy, thicker texture of a candied honey. Interestingly, honey can also slowly change colour (generally darker) and taste over time as well, similar to how wine can change over time.
Candied honey can be much easier for things like cups of tea or kids (non-drippy) and cooking (easier to measure for small quantities), however, if you prefer the liquid gold pop it in a pot of hot water or out in the sunshine on a warm day (with the lid well sealed). The ambient temperature over the day, at about 25 degrees or more, should bring it back to liquid by the time you get home from work! Do not put it in the microwave - it will be too hot, and if you don't gentle warm it, the crystalizing process will be faster the second time around.
To celebrate the re-launch of our
Award winning Whipped Honey AND launch our delivery service into the C-Bee-D at the end of the month, we will be giving away $1000 of Whipped Honey!
On a more serious note, Varroa mite was discovered in a port in Victoria this week. This is a very serious incursion, and thankfully the colony was destroyed in a timely fashion, with ongoing observation in the sentinel hive of the area.
The 2018 Honey Festival moved to the city in an effort to generate a broader audience. The newly built Yagan Square, offered the festival a range of extra experiences such as a market hall, cafes and restaurants, digital media, native gardens and a staged area. Unfortunately, this year the weather was not favourable as we were swept with heavy rain and winds in the morning. However, this eased up during the day.
To celebrate moving to the city at Yagan Square we invited Wadumbah Dance Group back to promote the spirit of our Aboriginal culture. We feel that through Wadumbah we have a great opportunity to educate people from all walks of life about our indigenous people. Noongar man, James T Webb, has always been very supportive of the Honey Festival including the honey bee story and dance to support it.
The honey competition was a great success with the judges congratulating the quality of entries. Judging was done four days prior to the festival by Joy and Tom Coy as well as Brian and Adriana Wickins who all spent a full and long day judging all entrants. Honey was judged on cleanliness, clarity, aroma, moisture content and presentation. The judge’s assessment paperwork was available on the day which proved to be very helpful to all those who exhibited. Congratulations to Gordon Carter for winning both the Best Beeswax Exhibit and Best Honey Exhibit 2018.
The cake competition unfortunately was not as successful as previous years with numbers falling quite considerably. We assumed this was due to the difficulty of getting cakes to the city on the day as well as the bad weather. Judge Dale Sniffen, mentioned that he would like to see next years entries with more honey flavours in the cakes.
Honey talks and presentations attracted small audiences around the staged area possibly due to the remote location. We decided to relocate the afternoon presentations down to the laneway area to capture people passing by. 'Forest’s for Life' joined us this year and together with beekeeper, Rupert Phillips, they had a very engaging conversation about the problems facing beekeepers. WA’s forest honey is world renowned and highly sought after but logging and burning are reducing apiarists’ sites and climate change is impacting on flowering times making it increasingly difficult for beekeepers to keep up supply. Native bees were not neglected with an educational talk by Faye Arcaro, to promote the preservation and enjoyment of Australian native bees.
Sponsorship was hard to source this year with many organizations unable to fund us. Many thanks to Capilano/Wescobee who raised the much-needed final funds to make the 2018 event happen. Honey I’m Home, with MRA support hosted the site free of charge for 2018.
The evolving Bees2Honey Inc continues to look for new and exciting ways to manage the future Honey Month’s events and festivals. The development of these events in May continue to grow making the month more interesting and diverse.
Thanks to all our sponsors and hardworking volunteers, as without them the festival would not have been possible.
Hello everyone! We are officially opened and have enjoyed the first week of trade at Yagan Square. The general feedback for the precinct has been very positive - people enjoying the amazing food offerings, the reflective art works and meeting in a place that has been hosting gatherings for a millennia. The opening ceremony was a simple, but thoughtful affair. I particularly enjoyed the traditional welcome to country dance and the singing of the song lines.
A big thank you to all the people who came on opening night in support of us, and those who made the effort over the first week to congratulate us! We really appreciate it, even if all we did was wave over the crowd at you!
Our Maylands shop should be back to normal this week too - our apologies for the messed around hours last week. Unfortunately, Mr T decided that last week was the best week to have his once-in-two-year flu! While it is always inconvenient for a SBO to be sick, it was rather tedious having it fall on this very busy week!
The bees have been very busy, and Mr T has harvested lots of Red Gum/ Marri from Boyup. He will be moving those hives, north to Chittering to take advantage of the slightly later flowering season north of the city. We will be looking at Wandoo (White Gum) sites in Watheroo and wildflower/Mallee sites in Menzies over the next few weeks to look at wintering the bees somewhere safe and warm.
We are in full countdown mode now!! It is exciting... the new Shop at Yagan Square is almost ready and we will be opening officially 3rd March over the long weekend! This is a little nerve wracking, and we ask your patience over the next month or so as we work out how to make sure both Shops run smoothly. The fit out is done and now it comes to stocking it...Keep for a sneak peak at the different food offerings available at Yagan Square, check out this Urban list article.
We will be releasing an exciting new product at both Shops in March! Co-oping their development with naturopath Rebecca Hall from Maylands Wellness, we are using the highest grade botanicals to create a line of Honey Tonics to support your wellbeing...
We will also be stocking an amazing new line at Yagan Square - Bee inspired delicate jewellery from Bowerbird. This jewellery is designed and handmade in South West Australia, inspired by our very own native Blue Banded Bee.
This season the Red Gum/Marri is going crackers! We will have is available for quite a long while over the winter and into spring. We will also be certifying it with the ChemCentre so that we can provide an anti-microbial and anti-bacterial honey after the Great Victoria Desert TA30+ finishes up.
Our bees are pushing hard while the Marri is out, and with the (touch wood) mild summer, it should be a long season. Our bees are currently in Rolystone and Boyanup - the south tends to flower slightly earlier, and we will be moving them to Chittering, more north, in late March to finish up on the last of the Marri there. All the Beeks are reporting that this seasons Marri is slightly lighter and thinner than previous years due to the lower temperatures and more frequent humid days from the cyclones up north pushing weather down here. But still tasty yum!
We are excited to be offer tickets to our first Food Festival!
Come and meet the Beek - Head Drone Tristan, member of the WA Honey Research Group with Curtin University and ChemCentre and his bees in their Observation Hive! Got a question about bees or honey, come and ask it!
Happy New Year to all the Beeps! I hope you all enjoyed a break with friends or family, ate too much food, watched too much TV and had an afternoon nap everyday! We took a small break, with only a couple of private bookings and some beekeeping to attend, and did just that :-)
We have spent the last week or so moving bees from various sites to productive Marri/Red Gum sites. We are hoping to have a good harvest this season (rather lack lustre last year) and bring in some high TA tested Marri too. The ChemCentre is working hard at rolling out dedicated testing protocols to showcase how amazing our Western Australian Eucalyptus honeys are - high in both antimicrobial and antibacterial properties.
Our second shop fit out is coming along really well! The lights have arrived, shelves are in and we are scheduled to open in February sometime. It has been a rather busy period finalizing everything, but the Justin and the team from TPS and Patrick from Finespun have been amazing to work with and made the process very smooth indeed. The Shop will bee awesome!
There has been a little bit of confusion over the future of the Maylands Shop - I can reassure everyone that Maylands will be remaining open! This new shop is our SECOND shop, not the replacement of our community focussed Maylands one! We do ask for a little patience over Feb and March, as we adjust to operating the two spaces, as I am sure there will be some growing pains, but we will try and keep them to a minimum :-)
We have three new staff members joining our team, in addition to TJ, Miss T and Miss R - and they are all beeautiful additions to Honey, I'm Home. You will see them mostly at the new Shop, but over the next few weeks, I will be training them - so come in and put them through their paces and ask them any sticky questions you can think of! Excuse the pun!
A few weeks ago, I sat down and had a great conversation with Josh from Down by 12th - a local photographer, food extraordinaire and Maylands resident!
'We’re confident that bees are an important part of our ecosystem, but as consumers, we’re not always sure whether buying honey is helping, or hurting them. We spoke to Blaine Campbell fromHoney I’m Homeabout terroir, sustainability, and honey, in order to find out how to get the best quality produce in a way which was sustainable and delicious.... ' Click here for the full article
Honey Festival 2017 kicked off with a glorious Autumn day full of sunshine and a temperature of 30 Degrees Celsius. In previous years, the threat of watermark rain has got us all praying for clear skies but with a forecast of sunshine it had us running for more sun umbrellas instead.
The honey festival is one event within the umbrella of Honey Month which is a National event. We aim to promote the honeybee industry and its products to a broader public. Our central aim is to educate and sensitize the community about the importance and problems of honeybees from a national and international level. With the assistance of commercial beekeepers, we aim to inspire a new generation of beekeepers and bee scientists into the industry.
With the festival growing in momentum each year this time we clicked in just over 3500 visitors. In 2013 on a very stormy, rainy day we estimated 1000 visitors. The enthusiasm of our visitors that year was not dampened by the weather as we all attempted to shelter from the storm and sizzle honey sausages at the same time.
Everyone seemed to enjoy the day of ‘beekeeping’ this year as shown from many different angles including science, training, demonstrations, competitions and children’s activities. The day was an all- time success. Since 2013 Honey Month has been pushing forward to include other functions to create interest and variation. Successful events have included a Slow Foods long table breakfast, breakfast with the beekeeper, children’s bee dress up competitions, Wadumbah’s Indigenous dance of the honey bee and our University of WA scientists displaying bee news at a variety of levels.
A big thanks to our Latino band from South America who entertained the audience with a rich mixture of vocal and instrumental leads. The children soon entered into salsa mode as they waggled through the crowds to demonstrate their waggle dances with Honeybee Sonia Chua and the Wescobee mascot. Proud parents also found their waggle to encourage “baby-bees” to join the fun.
The honourable Alana MacTiernan Minister for Regional Development; Agriculture and Food opened the festival with Leilani Leyland, President of WA Farmer’s Federation, Colin Fleay, Bee Industry Council of WA chairman and Andrea Johnston from Department of Agriculture and Food WA biosecurity. Ms. MacTiernan is enthusiastic to support the developing beekeeping sector and has a good understanding of WA’s valuable honey and pollination stance. Alana proposes to keep the section alive and profitable as she moves and settles into the Agricultural sector. It was a great bonus to have her at the festival as well as her future support in our beekeeping industry.
The event was not without honey and beeswax competitions. Honey judging was open for viewing on the 6th May, a day before the festival, and the judges were again pleased with the quality of honey and sculptures presented. (Honey entrants required a beekeeper’s registration for valid entry)
Best honey - Blaine and Tristan Campbell
Light honey – Kit Wartenweiler
Dark honey – Gordon Carter
Creamed honey - Blaine and Tristan Campbell
Naturally granulated honey – Gordon Carter
Floating comb – Gordon Carter
Light wax – Bert Valenti
Dark wax – Gordon Carter
Wax sculpture - Blaine and Tristan Campbell
A smorgasbord of delectable honey cakes (all baked to the same recipe) were judged and tasted by our honey judge and the delighted winners were:
Honey Cake – Melissa Beasley
Honey cupcakes (Juniors under 12) – Casey Dow
Since the introduction of the Flow Hive there has become a positive and heightened interest in beekeeping. Budding beekeepers are enthusiastic to find out how they should start their new hobby. With this in mind, we continued from last year and included a presentation on flow hives vs. Langstroth hives. The commercial beekeeping sector feels there is a vital importance to make people aware of the need to inspect hives and be aware of floral sources, pest and diseases and legislation to keep a hive healthy. To assist with floral sources Tintuppa Nursery showcased a range of bee friendly plants for our backyards. Backyard beekeeping needs a range of floral sources to enable the survival of bees and other insects. These sources are diminishing at an alarming rate as we bulldoze native plant resources for the spread of residential developments and low maintenance gardens.
Native bees were not forgotten and included on the day was a nest sponsored by Bendigo Bank to show an example of how native bees live. Children were encouraged to make their own native beehive which they could take home for their gardens. Children could also find fun at the pollination tent to find the bee fact trail with pollination boards and a quiz. Top bar hives and Hive Mind were welcomed as additional stallholders, displaying the concept of top bar hives and the benefits of remote hive weighing technology. To compliment this presentation, David Leyland spoke on the importance of healthy bees and bee nutrition whilst Michael Bellman spoke on labeling laws. Both presentations were well received by a large audience. Other events included Mark and Karen Stafford from Ezyloaders who showcased loaders and how they help to take the back-breaking work out of beekeeping. A large audience crowded around to see the hives loaded and unloaded from various beekeeping setups on trucks and utes. Mark also offers assistance to WA owners of his Australian made Ezyloaders.
The committee feel that the 2017 honey festival was a great success reaching a large audience of aspiring beekeepers, hobby beekeepers, honey lovers and many day trippers out in the Swan Valley for a glorious Sunday. This year we were able to create more interest in the community by developing a new string of honey and bee related events thanks to Blaine Campbell. This ranged from events with local naturopaths and wellness centres, a honey degustation dinner at Rendezvous hotel in Scarborough, a stall at the small field day in Gidgegannup and a sundowner with WA’s Food Ambassador, Don Hancey.
A big thanks to our committee members, sponsors and invaluable volunteers who inspire us to keep the event going.
Kim Phillips – President, Bees2Honey Inc
Thank you to our sponsors: Bendigo Bank, John Guilfoyles Beekeeping Equipment, CIBER, Capilano, Scitech, and The House of Honey.
I met Simon via an online Beek facebook forum and I remember very early on in our beekeeping 'career' driving up the freeway in peak hour traffic to collect our first swarm, madly messaging Simon, since it was the morning there, about what to do and his best tips!
Over the years, we have exchanged laments about weather, information on our respective hive management, and eventually even honey!
I asked Simon to do a guest blog for Honey Month, and it may even be a semi regular thing as Simon does some very interesting queen rearing and breeding!
Why did I start keeping bees ?
I call my little honey operation Stour Valley Honey, ( not Stour Valley Apiaries who are about eight miles away), which is a clue to where we are, at Wormingford, on the border of Essex and Suffolk, in the East Anglia region of England. This area is probably most famous for John Constable and Thomas Gainsborough the artists. East Anglia is quite flat and is quoted as being the driest part of the country.
As I had planted a lot of soft fruit it seemed like a good idea at the time. Going back about fifteen years when I started it was a dying art; not so now with the great resurgence we have seen in the UK.
Starting with one hive, it quickly grew to the 25 I have now, the soft fruit taking less priority as the Bees took over my life, as most beekeeper soon find out.
As the sun comes back from being on loan to our friends in Western Australia, the season has got off to a good start.
With some great weather in early spring, the Bees flourished, unfortunately however, we have all but lost our main spring crop of Oil Seed Rape, which seems to have fallen out of favour with farmers. So the work in hand is to make sure the bees don't swarm and are in prime condition ready for the Borage crop which is grown here.
Our strain of Honeybee is the dark Western European Bee, which is very frugal with stores, goes out on colder, damper days thus storing more honey, the only down side being their fiery attitude!
It has been said by people that have tried the more yellow Australian-type Honeybees is that they drink a lot of nectar and are very reluctant to go out on cold, damp days, they do however, have a great attitude and are good to work with.
This summer we hope to rear some new queens from our best colonies, and increase our stock. This will need to be done early on, to enable the new colonies to build up strong before the wasp attacks and the coming of winter. (I mean real winter, minus figures!!)
I also work very closely with Assington Mill where rural courses are taught and I am responsible for all things Bees etc.
My real Job is Joinery and I have my own business: SP Cousins Joinery Ltd; this does work out handy when I need some beekeeping equipment, I can make it myself!
I meet Beeks from all around the world - both in person when they have travelled, and also online. Some of the best hive management advise I have had was from fellow Beeks on line, and even though we haven't met, it's been great developing relationships and sharing knowledge about bees across the globe.
I met a Beek from England recently at the Shop and he told me this story that I have to share with you all!
So this Beek keeps bees in a designated organic area in the south of England in Dorset. His hives also happen to be within coo-wee of Monkey World. And yes, there is a real place called Monkey World (they rescue primates, rehabilitate if they can, help governments prevent illegal smuggling). So, one afternoon he gets a call from a nice Monkey Lady (or possibly Monkey Man!) asking him if owned the hives that were next door and if they had possibly swarmed? They had a swarm of bees at Monkey World.
Regardless of whether the swarm was from his hives, he asked if they would like them removed. With a polite 'yes please', said Beek gathered his beekeeping gear, a spare box and drove out to Monkey World.
He was escorted through the centre, later in the afternoon just before feeding time. And was promptly pointed to the chimpanzee enclosure. There was a large tire in the middle of the enclosure, with a lovely neat swarm tucked into it. However, there was also a large family group of chimpanzees. Loose. In the enclosure.
The Monkey Lady gestured to the gates and promptly started opening the first safety gate, and the Beek was like:
'uh, 'mam, I can't go in there'... the Lady looked puzzled and asked, 'but why not?'
'um, because there are ravaging monkey hoards in there' (emphasis mine, this guy was pretty English)
'Oh, they wouldn't hurt you, just don't make any sudden moves, I mean, your bees are waaaay more dangerous' (again, emphasis mine, because, again English = stoic)
'I would really, rather prefer if there wasn't chimpanzees in there while I collect the swarm'
'Mmm. Well, I suppose I can sort something out'. And with that, mumbled something in a two-way and a loud whistle sounded. The chimpanzees looked up, and scuttled out of the enclosure, and into another area - the secure night area out the back. After reassuring the Beek, with a mild look of bemusement, that the chimpanzees would not escape just at the moment he swept the bees into the hive, he carefully stepped into the enclosure.
The rest of the afternoon went by smoothly, with a lovely swarm caught in a box, and taken away, sans ravaging chimpanzee hoards!
There are more than 25,000 recorded species of bees in the world, which can be broken down into 9 families of bees (under the banner of Apoidea). The ‘honeybee’ belongs to the Apidea family, and contains 10 sub species (and a hybrid). Apis mellifera is the honeybee that is most commonly kept for honey production and pollination services. From my other blogs, you can learn about our bee-autiful ladies, but for this one I have collected a little snippet of info on some of our other bees, starting with one of our cutest Aussie bees!
Teddy Bear Bees
Scientific Name: Amegilla bombiformis
Origin: Australian Native, east coast.
Description: Golden, furry and bumblebee shaped, about 7-15mm big.
Behaviour: Teddy-bear bees are solitary, with a female building a pollen, nectar and egg cell in the ground. They have a distinct buzz when flying and this means they are often mistaken for bumblebees.
Attitude: Oh dear, can't we all just get along? (These bees are preyed on by other bees and birds).
Cuteness Factor: 10/10
Factoid: These Teddy Bears are very efficient buzz pollinators.
Description: Black and shiny, with some sub-species having flashes of yellow.
Behaviour: Generally solitary in nature, these bees have gained their names from their burrowing into solid wood.
Attitude: I chew out wood, and make it my b*tch, I mean, nest. That makes me a bad ass! There are YouTube channels dedicated to stopping my awesome power!
Factoid: One Carpenter bee species lays the largest recorded egg of any insect!
Leaf Cutter Bees:
Scientific Name: Megachilidae
Distribution: World wide
Description: The general size of a honeybee, generally black and white stripes, however, this varies from species and distribution.
Behaviour: Solitary in nature, these bees have gained their names the neat circles they chew out on soft leaf plants, such as roses. They roll the small disc and add eggs, pollen and small amount of nectar to the cells they make. Unlike honeybees who carry pollen on their legs, Leafcutter bees carry their pollen on their abdomen.
Attitude: I like to watch... These bees are very shy and the only reason you know they are around is from their little cut outs.
Factoid: The Leafcutter Bee would prefer to bite you, before it would sting you!
Scientific Name: Megachilidae osmia
Distribution: Northern Hemisphere
Description: Generally metallic green or blue, about the size of a honeybee
Behaviour: These solitary bees utilize the abandoned hollows of a carpenter bee, hollows in trees etc. The female uses mud to create cells for food and eggs.
Attitude: I’ll borrow that, thanks! They take the opportunity to use any old thing for their nests.
Factoid: The Mason bee is so cheeky, they have been known to use abandoned snail shells as homes.
Scientific Name: Nomadinae
Distribution: World wide
Species Info: 31 genera, 10 tribes
Description: Metallic blue and black, with reduced hair and no pollen baskets on their legs. Rather wasp-like in appearance, these bees are one of the least evolved bees.
Behaviour: These bees lay their eggs in other bees and insects nests, hence the name ‘cuckoo’ bee. In some cases, the Cuckoo Bee will take over the small nest and kill the Queen.
Attitude: Can’t be bothered, you do it! These bees live a life of deception and intrigue!
Factoid: They often sleep grasping a plant stem with just their mandibles.
Scientific Name: Apidae bombus
Distribution: Northern Hemisphere, introduced to some parts of the Southern Hemisphere, such as New Zealand and Tasmania
Species Info: 250 species
Description: Fuzzy, furry (the fuzz is called ‘pile’) and dopey, this black and yellow bee ranges in size from 1.9cm to about 4cm.
Behaviour: A social bee, the Bumble will form small colonies (compared to the Honeybee), sometimes underground of about 50-400 bees.
Cuteness Factor: 10/10. Cuteness personified, only rivaled by puppies and baby puggles.
Attitude: None. They are dopey happiness balls that fly.
Factoid: Bumblebees have no ears. This does not reduce their cuteness in any way.
Scientific Name: Halictidae
Distribution: World wide, uncommon in Australia.
Species Info: Large family of bees, more than 1000 species in Northern America alone. The common family of bees, other than the Apis family.
Description: Small, petite bees, dark or metallic in colour. They gain their common name by being attracted to the smell of salt, including human sweat. Don't be put off by the name - these bees are very pretty and petite.
Behaviour: Some Sweat bees are solitary, others hive together in a social manner. They can build nests almost anywhere, including in dry, bare dirt.
Factoid: This family contains some nocturnal bees.
Lots of people think that bees aren’t nice because they sting, but bees are actually calm and lovely to work with. The reason they sting is because they either get stepped on or you swat at them.
The reason why we shouldn’t have bees extinct is because they are the reason we are alive. Without bees WE would be extinct because they pollinate trees and without trees we wouldn’t have oxygen and without oxygen we all would be dead.
When I go to Kings Park with my grandparents, I like to look in the flowers and the bees that are usually in the flowers. Sometimes it’s a blue banded bee which has blue and black stripes instead of black and yellow, or a Caucasian bee which has thin black strips and yellow strips, then there is usually the European bee which is the most commonly seen bee in Australia. I have seen a few leaves that have been cut from a Leaf-Cutter bee but I have never seen one because they are extremely shy. If you go to Kings Park you should try and identify a few bees on your iPhone.
I like my bees. When it’s winter and I see a bee on the ground, I pick it up and give it some sugar water. The sugar helps it warm up and by picking it up it will warm up more by the warmth of your body heat. After about 5 minutes the bee should fly off. If you don’t like bees, that’s fine, but don’t just step on her!
A story to remember why the comb is hexagonal is this one:
The bees are all deciding which shape to use for their comb, so one of them thought they could used circles but they have gaps in them when you tessellate them. Another one piped up and said ‘What about a square?’ but the other ones said that its hard do get it straight. So they looked at the other shapes. Finally they decided that the hexagonal pattern is the best one because it’s easy to make and it’s the best one to use the least amount of beeswax.
So that’s how they decided to use the hexagonal pattern!
I hope you enjoyed my thoughts and if you wish bees don’t exist than I suggest you to save up on oxygen!
We all know that things are tight out there. There is only so many dollars and fewer of them, right? But most of us we still going to put on a Christmas spread, gather our friends and family around and exchange some gifts.
So what are you going to choose to support this Christmas?
Everyone gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates from your local hair salon or barber. There are some pretty funky places out there now!
Who wouldn't appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, Australian owned detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a book of gift certificates.
Maybe some golf games, bowling vouchers or festival tickets?
There are a gazillion owner-run restaurants - all offering gift certificates. And, if your intended isn't the fancy eatery sort, what about a breakfast voucher for the local breakfast joint, or a pub meal at one of the re-vamped ones around Perth?
Remember, Christmas can be about supporting your local community, who often have their financial lives on the line to keep their doors open.
Thinking about a heartfelt gift for a busy mum or dad? Parents would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day! (Hint Hint!)
Perhaps your grandparents computer could use a tune-up, and you can easily find some young guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.
Know someone who has everything? A voucher to a local community theatre or comedy act could be the go.
OK, you were looking for something more personal... Local crafts make jewelry, pottery, housewares and beautiful wooden art. There are heaps of local markets and arts 'n' craft shows that can make a custom present special.
There are so many benefits to shopping local:
Your dollars stays in the local economy! Research shows that for every $100 spent in a local business, $73 stays in the local economy and only $27 leaves. When you spend with a multi-national, $57 leaves the economy!
There are huge food miles to be aware of - the average food basket (30 items) has traveled over 70,000km. That's almost two times around the Earth! There has been little research done on consumable items, but logic dictates that the travel miles on those items are just as high.
Increased social benefit - shopping in your local community means you get to know your locals and local issues, increase social cohesion, and improve your own mental health by being part of your community.
There is a great environmental benefit too - less packaging, less single use plastic when you give a voucher or experience rather than another gimmicky import.
It’s certainly that time of the year for everyone to escape the ‘bitter Perth winter months’ and head to somewhere warmer for a while. As people are returning, we often hear the complaint about how strict our airport and border security is regarding bringing in honey from interstate or overseas. So, I thought I would offer some information about the importance of our bio-security and why apiarists in Western Australia are pushing for even more bio-security measures, particularly throughout the port systems.
Western Australia is now among the safest place in the world for bees. We have the healthiest bees, the cleanest honey. We do not have the most deadly pest to bees – the Varroa Destructor Mite here in Australia. Yet. Nor to do we have the Small Hive Beetle, now endemic to the east coast of Australia. Other diseases such as AFB, EFB and a number of others are rare, isolated occurrences in WA, and because of our isolation, controlled easily and quickly (although full apiary sites must be destroyed if it is detected).
We want to keep it that way.
Many of the diseases we have in Australia can be traced back to imported honey and pollen products, mostly during the 1970’s and 80’s when the importance of tight bio-security was not understood properly. A further few have come in through the break out of swarm hives found in fruit that been imported from other countries.
The eggs of Varroa Destructor and other pests, and the spores for EFB/AFB are not visible to the naked eye. This means that raw honey products can contain any number of diseases.
Image: Left - Small Hive Beetle Lava
Right: Varroa Destructor Mite eggs growing on Bee Brood
‘But, I will be eating all that honey I bring in, it’s not going to the bees’, I hear you say!
Bees suck 0.004mg of nectar into their stomachs per trip to the hive. There will be honey left in the bottom of that jar, and it will end up in landfill (because let’s face it, recycling isn’t really a thing in Australia yet, even if you do put it in the right bin! But that is an issue for another day). The jar WILL attract bees. Maybe not straight away, but bees can detect nectar reliably up to 5km from their hives! In times of dearth, they will access ANY source for food, including sugar factories, MM factories (link) and landfill items.
The last dregs of honey will be about 1-2 teaspoons worth (approx 15ml or about 19g of honey). Trust me, I know my left over honey! That is enough for 76 bees to take back a load to their hives. Microscopic eggs/spores can be in that honey and within 3 days that hive is infected. Sick hives will abscond, move locations, and ‘healthy bees’ (infected, but not symptomatic) will join other hives in the local area. Across WA, we have a wild hive (unmanaged) every 2sqkm!
In other countries records of outbreaks show wild hives are the first to be decimated by a new disease, and then managed hives are next. When Varroa Destructor was detected in New Zealand in the late 1980's, the wild hives were destroyed within months, and the managed hives were nearly wiped out in one year. NZ beekeepers suffered losses of over 75% in the first year. It took decades to build back to sustainable levels of bees, and proactive investment from the NZ government.
Image: Worker with Varroa Destructor Mite
‘But, I’m not really keen on honey, I can go without it’…
I have heard this a few times. I don’t know how you could live without the golden nectar from the Gods, but I try not to be judgmental of peoples food choices ;-) Yes, you can live without honey. Food though? Every third mouthful of food you eat comes from a pollinator. 90% of all pollinators are bees (and virtually all commercial food crops requiring pollination are pollinated by bees). Here is a list of foods you would not have without our bees (link – the most important ones being coffee and chocolate!). Our agricultural industry accounts for 12% of the Australian GDP, and 65% of all agricultural crops rely on bee pollination. That’s 7% of our GDP that relies DIRECTLY on bee pollination. The effect of no pollination services will equate to food insecurity and loss of economic benefits. Is that pot of imported honey or bee pollen still worth it?
Take it one step further – bees pollinate many of our flowering trees. Our wild hives are responsible for much of this pollination and imagine the loss of flora diversity if bushland and forests aren’t being pollinated? Taking a selfish human perspective… what about the air we breath? Trees clean, filter and produce oxygen… where are we heading if we allow our bees to die? Just a thought...
‘But, I paid for it and I want my moneys’ worth!’…
Let’s go back to the ‘cleanest and greenest’ honey is from Western Australia bit. Coupled with our tight labeling laws and solid hive management practices, our honey in Australia is free from anti-biotics, not mixed with sugar, high fructose corn syrup, fillers or watered down. When the label says ‘100%’ honey’, it almost always is! The same can't be said about other countries, where honey can be sold with corn syrup with it, and still legally labelled as 100% pure honey...
I can’t imagine you are getting your money's worth with an inferior product, possibly laden with antibiotics (as many countries have to use them to keep their bees alive. It is illegal to use them in Australia), not necessarily 100% honey, and possibly containing spores and eggs of diseases, and doesn’t taste as nice as WA honey! Ok, that last bit may be a little biased, Thyme and Lavender honey is pretty special, but you understand my point.
I hope that this explains the need for our strict bio-security, even from honeys from the east coast.
Image: Dead Out. From Disease or Pesticide. Sometimes it can take less then a day to kill an entire hive, sometimes weeks.
When we travel, we enjoy that regions honey, visit other honey producers and eat up big. But we don’t bring it home. Please leave it for someone else to enjoy in that region.
It is coming to that time of year again, the cooler weather is finally upon us. And with it, comes a time when the honey will start to harden, known as crystallization, granulation or candying.
I often get asked why it candies; it is a quite a misunderstood phenomenon. Some people question whether this process means that it is an inferior product, poor quality or storage, or that it has been processed in some way. It is not. It is not off, it hasn't gone bad, so please do not chuck it out!!
Raw honey will candy over time. Some on-comb inside the hive (such as a clover or canola) and others take many, many years (such as Jarrah). Honey is dehydrated nectar which is ~80% water. The bees dehydrate it to between ~14-18% water, the rest of the honey being combination of fructose and glucose. The granulation of honey occurs when the saturation of glucose within the remaining water of the honey has occurred and there is an overabundance of glucose molecules in the honey that form crystals.
Because of the slightly different chemical compositions of different nectar, each honey is slightly different in the resulting balance of fructose and glucose. Those with a slightly higher glucose amount will candy faster. Raw honeys generally have a GI index of 35-40, whereas a homogenized/pasteurized (heated) honey will be about 60-65.
The quality of candied honey does not change, only the texture. Some people actually prefer the grainy, thicker texture of a candied honey. Interestingly, honey can also slowly change colour (generally darker) and taste over time as well, similar to how wine can change over time.
Candied honey can be much easier for things like cups of tea (non-drippy) and cooking (easier to measure for small quantities), however, if you prefer the liquid gold pop it in a pot of hot water or out in the sunshine on a warm day (with the lid well sealed). The ambient temperature over the day, at about 25 degrees or more, should bring it back to liquid by the time you get home from work! Do not put it in the microwave - it will be too hot, and if you don't gentle warm it, the candy process will be faster the second time around.