Getting stuck into bee-keeping

I don’t know whether all guests get this treatment or whether it was just reserved for me, but I was greeted today by a Nuffield chum armed with a roll of duct tape and a pair of rubber gloves.

It’s not as weird as it sounds. Or not quite, anyway.

I’ve driven just a few kilometres from Keith to Tintinara, a titchy town home to Ben Hooper, his lovely wife Jo and his bee-keeping business.

As soon as I arrived Hoops had a snazzy bee-keeping suit and superb-fitting size-10 boots waiting for me to be taped into – all precautions against being stung by anyone of the hundreds of thousands of bees which reside in the hives he owns.

I was sorely tempted to see if I could get a suit of my own to take home, given how good I looked in it:

Me the bee-keeper

Hoops has his own apiary business, but he operates alongisde his dad, who has had his own bee-keeping enterprise for more than 20 years, to split the costs.

Between them they have about 1300 hives, which they drop off at farms around Tintinara so the bees can pollinate the crops. The Hoopers then visit once the sites every ten days or so with their mobile honey-collecting unit.

They take frames from each of the hives, brush off the bees, uncap the wax seal on the honeycomb and put them in a special machine that spins them for seven minutes. The spinning forces all of the honey out of the honeycomb and into waiting tanks, which they load up on a lorry and send to their buyer in Queensland where it is blended and then exported or distributed around Australia.

It’s peak honey season at the moment, with most of the bees’ work being done from August/September until the start of the year. It means Hoops and his dad have the luxury of only really working in the field for a few months of the year – the rest of the time is spent painting hives in Hoops’ favourite shade of pink and constructing New Zealand-made frames….


…Oh, and buying duct-tape to see just how gullible your guests will be.

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