Hi, I’m Phoebe Dearricott and I wanted to talk a bit about my bees. My dad and I own five colonies that we keep in my auntie’s yard. We harvest our honey over summer and
autumn, collecting over 150 kilos of pure central Victorian honey. With the right
equipment and determination it really is easy to do!
Contrary to popular belief you don’t have to be a professional in order to keep bees!
My dad and I keep traditional hives with wax frames and use an extractor. A bee hive is set up like a filing cabinet, with eight frames hanging vertically along a ridge at the top of the box. In order to collect the honey you have to take out the full frames, place them inside a barrel and spin them to force the honey out of the combs.
Honey is made when bees go out and collect nectar. Once they get back to the hive,
enzymes in the bees’ saliva work their magic to turn it into honey. Before it becomes the finished product we know and love, they have to reduce the liquid content from 60% to around 10%. They do this by creating airflow through the hive by flapping their wings.
Bee keepers in Central Victoria have taken advantage of the blooming yellow gums and iron bark forests for over a hundred years. Whirrakee’s and other wattles are also the main source of pollen used to provide food for their larvae.
Beekeeping in the Eaglehawk area is a local tradition due to the nectar rich eucalypts in the Whipstick.
Bees are rarely aggressive and will only attack if they feel threatened, such as if a bear (or big hairy human) is coming to rob their colony. If you do come across a swarm on your property, be sure to close any nearby windows and call a local beekeeper, who can come and relocate the colony safely and prevent the spread of disease or negative impacts upon native animals.
Don’t panic if you are faced with a swarm!
Don’t pull the stinger out!
If you are stung by a bee, try not to pull the stinger out, as this will push more toxins into your blood stream and be both painful and itchy! Instead, use a sharp edge to scrape or ‘flick’ the stinger out sideways and then apply ice. Unfortunately, you will still suffer some negative effects of the toxins. If you think you might be allergic, be sure to go to your
doctor and ask them to do a patch test and be sure to stay safe around bees!