David is a third generation Apiarist and has been doing the job for over 46 years. I had the pleasure of spending a few hours watching David at work and being dazzled by the amazing world of bees.
Walking out to the hives I feel a tiny twinge of trepidation. I was offered the ‘Bee Protector’ but after hearing it being referred to as the ‘chicken suit’ decide to man up and go without. One final chance to wear the suit was offered just before we start, making me even the more nervous. Straight away I have a massive urge to wave my arms around like a lunatic to stay clear of the swarm. That quickly disappears after David tells me that just pisses them off and you are way more likely to get stung…multiple times. We grab the smoker filled with tea tree bark and head off to check out the hives.
Before today the breadth of my knowledge of bees stems from what I have learnt from Winnie the Pooh. At this point the idiotic urban dwelling questions about bees commence. David does an amazing job of overlooking my ignorance and treats me to an Apiarist 101 lesson that blows my mind. There are between fifty and ninety thousand bees in one hive, all working in unison to produce that amazing golden liquid for our morning toast. I always had the perception that the queen was the leader of the hive. That she was inside bossing everyone around and forcing her lackeys to work their butts off gathering nectar to fill her belly. I also thought that if you took the queen out of the hive you would have thousands of bees on the attack in some kind of cartoon like chase that ends with you diving into a body of water. Turns out they wouldn’t even care and just get on with the job of making another one. If eggs are available, the worker bees will take some of them and start the remarkable process of raising a new queen. When the new virgin queen hatches, she will take her nuptial flight, mate with drones, and return to the hive to begin laying eggs (sorry if that’s wrong David). If there are no eggs well…David just raises one and throws it in…that’s right, he has the almighty power of creating a queen. An everyday deity of sorts.
David tells me the story about honey being found in the tomb of a pharaoh from ancient Egypt. It had been buried with him thousands of years ago and you could have easily slapped it on a piece of toast and have it taste the same as if you grabbed it off the shelf of the supermarket. Honey and bees are amazing and yet I don’t think people consider how important they are to life on this planet.
So far so good, no stings yet. David cops one on the ear but doesn’t batter an eyelid. He wants me to try and grab a shot of the stinger stuck in his ear but I can’t stand still long enough to get a stable shot. I don’t think I stop moving the whole time, thinking that moving will keep me safe somehow. I compose myself just enough to watch the bees carefully going about their business while David pulls out each comb and pokes around in their bounty. The hives are doing really well but David is going to be moving them along nearer to the beach to have a better chance of producing the new next best thing in the health/medical world, Jelly Bush Honey. Current uses of Jelly Bush include wound care, digestion, sore throat, strep throat, stomach ulcers, pressure sores, bacterial infections and burns, just to name a few.
After what seems like forever we are finished checking the hives and I escape unstung but completely spellbound with the world of bees. The expertise and knowledge that David has blows me away. You cannot imagine the amount of understanding he has built up over the last 46 years and the time and effort that has been put into making sure all his sites are well looked after and producing good quality honey. The thing that gets me the most is David runs this whole operation by himself. He is the master of well over a million buzzing bees.
Thanks for letting me into your world for a few hours David. I leave absolutely in awe of your knowledge and honey making expertise.