Bees play a vital role in the pollination of over half the fruits and vegetables we consume (including coffee!) - they are essential to our eco-system.
Recently, we took the initiative and installed some beehives out the back of our roastery with help from local beekeeper, Ben Moore. We caught up with him to chat about the fundamentals of Beekeeping and how his business, Ben’s Bees, started.
How did you get into beekeeping?
When I was 14, I told mum and dad that I didn’t want a puppy or a kitten – I wanted a beehive! I was made to save up my own money, so I started fruit picking before and after school and on weekends. I saved up $60 and was lucky enough to find a local beekeeper in the Yarra Valley who dropped off a hive for me. This started my journey into the wonderful world of bees. Seven years ago I turned it into a business which keeps me incredibly busy six months of the year.
What do you love most about it?
I am incredibly fortunate to love my work with the bees. Over the years I have expanded my numbers gradually, so that now I am in a good position and don’t need to push the bees for production of honey. I have a fantastic social media presence, which is updated almost daily.
In the future, I plan on increasing my number of hives from 350 to 450 or more. This will help me develop a unique service where I rent out bees for pollination on organic farms, or other locations where the usage of chemicals is minimised.
The honeybee colony has a fixed address, leading a sedentary existence. This is not a problem as long as one stays at home, and for the greater part of their lives, the bees do not leave their nest. A flow of material and energy must nevertheless be maintained, and the foragers have no choice but to fly out into a dangerous world in search of flowers.
Why are bees so important to the Eco-system?
Bees are essential to pollination; they contribute to pollinating over 70% of the fruit and vegetables we eat.
What’s the ideal habitat for bees?
Bees need floras in order to thrive, but more importantly they need a diverse range of flora. Bees collect pollen and nectar from flowers; suburban and city areas are actually better for bees than the country as there is more varieties for the bees to forage on.
As a beekeeper, how often do you get stung?
When its spring and summer time I can get stung over 50 times a day! I am lucky as I don’t feel them much like I did when I was young.
How many hives do you have around Melbourne?
I manage over 350 hives, more than 50 are within the suburbs and a few are also located within the CBD of Melbourne.
Tell us about the products you’ve created using bees.
I have a massive array of products and my most popular is the organic lip balm, made with pure beeswax; its perfect for moisturizing dry, chapped lips. I also make pure beeswax candles; beeswax wraps are also very popular as these are a natural alternative to cling wrap.
Any advice for people looking to start up bee keeping?
Keeping bees is an incredibly rewarding hobby, whether it’s for the sweet honey they produce, understanding their biology or simply wanting some assistance to help pollinate your garden. Get in touch with another beekeeper who will make a really good mentor… bee clubs are fantastic too!
Ben features in an upcoming episode of The Extract Series – so keep an eye out for him.
Follow Ben on Instagram here.