Busy bee

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beekeeping

He’s only just started beekeeping but Dr Eythan Walsh of Northern Suburbs Veterinary Hospital in Greensborough, Victoria, has already harvested kilos of sweet honey.

“This is my first season as a beekeeper, and I’ve only done one small collection of honey. Most hives have 10 frames but I only harvested from three and ended up with six kilos of honey. Next spring I’ll do a full harvest and if I extrapolate from my first collection, I should end up with 60 or 70 kilos. Friends claim that my honey tastes much better than store bought but, in all honesty, I’m not entirely sure what I’m going to do with all that honey. Maybe you’ll see Beethan Walsh Honey on shelves somewhere!

“I’ve been interested in beekeeping since high school but didn’t get serious about it until the COVID-19 lockdown. My uni course was called off so I had a free couple of weeks. I did an online beekeeping course and bought a textbook I read from cover to cover. I built my own hive from a flatpack kit and a mate allowed me to place it on his property. Some local beekeepers gave me a colony of bees and a queen.

“During the colder months, you just leave the bees to their own devices and don’t open the hive. It’s more hands-on when the weather is warmer and the plants are flowering. This is when the bees are producing a lot of honey and you have to stay on top of things. The location of the hive is important as the pollen from neighbouring plants changes the flavour and appearance of the honey.

“I’ve got all the tools a beekeeper needs, including a full bee suit and a smoker. It’s a good idea to invest in a quality bee suit. I haven’t been stung yet and want to keep it that way.

“Climate change, deforestation and disease are having a terrible impact on bee populations in Australia. Getting people involved is the best way to tackle the problem. Even if you don’t want a hive, you can design your garden with bee-friendly plants so they can pollinate and survive.

“I’ve always seen myself as an environmentally conscious person. The idea of producing my own food really appeals to me and that was a large part of why I was driven to bees. Starting my own hive has been a fascinating and satisfying experience. I now have two hives and will probably expand that to three or four. Come to think of it, Beethan Walsh Honey is actually a very real possibility.”

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