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2016 The beginning - starting with bees

It’s been a long road starting with bees but I’m up and running now. I spent the whole winter and spring of 2016 attending club field days, dropping frames on the ground and learning loads from mentors at the club. There is so much to learn when getting started with bees.

I then bought my first beehive from Barry and Shirley (members of the Northside Beekeepers Club) in November 2016.  I spent the first summer going to as many field days with different people as I could, helping out at my allocated mentors site, eating honeycomb and having cups of tea with my bees in the backyard… Much like all other beekeepers when they get started.

I learnt about beekeeping, different styles of hive stands, different depths of hives and different weights of boxes. I got to use a bee vac to rescue bees from the wild and learnt how to make a solar wax melter for free to get started.

I learnt about all the different pests and diseases that are out to get your hive and all the bits of gear you need to build hives, frames, nucs, stands etc. I was starting to understand that it wasn’t just about putting a hive in the backyard and getting honey…. these hives are official livestock.

I met the State Biosecurity Officer and learnt about registering my hive with the DPI and that I could have 30 hives as a hobbyist before a registration fee was incurred and how to do a varroa sugar shake.

I learnt about extracting honey in other peoples honey shed, how to make mead.

I visited commercial operators and saw what a 48 frame automatic extraction line looked like. I learnt what grafting a queen was.

I found that diving into the bee club and doing a presentation on what I’d learnt as a beginner and becoming the News Editor to build the content around the monthly newsletters meant that I learnt very rapidly and met tonnes of people throughout the industry.

From there I collected 2 swarms (one in a possum box and the other on the side of a compost bin) in January 2017 from the local area with the support of my mentors and found myself slowly being taken over by the typical bee obsession.

I also experienced the downside of losing a hive to American Foul Brood which was a really good learning curve as to how quickly things can go wrong and why. I had to euthanise the hive with petrol and burn all the hive and equipment to stop the disease spreading.

I’m currently supporting 9 operating bee hives as of May 2017 and loving every minute of it.