Tom Cherry knew nothing about bees three years ago.
In fact he was a bit wary of the animals. His mother had always been nervous of the animals, which she passed onto her children.
A visit to Tasmania changed his life.
There he tasted Tasmanian Leatherwood Honey. It was this and a glass hive that changed his mind. The sight of bees buzzing in and out fascinated him.
So he went home and bought some hives.
He now owns five, spread between Eaglehawk, Long Gully and Golden Square.
The bees produce “floral honey” from the variety of nectar sources found in an around Bendigo’s suburbs.
They also perform a valuable service, pollinating local oranges, lemons and other fruit trees.
Mr Cherry has found he loves the hobby, and he is still fascinated by the inner workings of bee communities.
“It’s getting back to nature. We're such a commercial, stressful world, just standing out the front of the beehive watching them come in,” Mr Cherry said.
“You get into like a zen watching bees go into their hive, it’s fascinating. It’s a very relaxing hobby.”
When he bought his first beehives Mr Cherry knew nothing about beekeeping. He approached several local beekeepers who gave him valuable instruction.
Three years in he’s still learning, and isn’t expecting to know it all anytime soon.
“It’s trial and error, you’re always learning as a beekeeper,” Mr Cherry said.
You get into like a zen watching bees go into their hive, it’s fascinating. It’s a very relaxing hobby.Tom Cherry
Assistance from the Bendigo branch of the Australian Apiarists Association has proved invaluable to Mr Cherry in pursuing his beekeeping dreams.
Early in his beekeeping days he attended a Beekeeping Field Day run by the branch.
This Sunday the branch will run its 39th annual Beekeeping Field Day in Harcourt.
It caters for beekeepers of all levels of experience from large-scale commercial operators, to hobbyists.
President of the branch Rob Gardner encouraged absolutely anyone to come along to the day, particularly those who are interested in starting off in beekeeping.
Mr Gardner has been keeping bees on and off for over 30 years. He first got beehives while teaching in Melbourne, where he would run short courses on the science of bees and beekeeping with his students.
He’d become interested after a visit to a commercial beekeeper in NSW, where he went out with him to extract honey.
“I thought what a fantastic lifestyle beekeeping is,” Mr Gardner said.
“You’re out in the bush a lot and you need to know a lot about the different trees and the different sources of nectar and honey.
“It very much suits an outdoors person, you’ve got to be very mindful of the seasons and the weather and the climate.”
Australia has seen a growing number of small scale beekeepers in the past decade, while numbers of commercial beekeepers have dropped.
People are constantly fascinated by the complexity and the capacity and the life of bees inside a beehive.Rob Gardner
Mr Gardner has seen a lot more people in central Victoria putting just one or two hives in their backyard, during his 12 years with the Apiarists Association.
It’s a result of more people seeking to live a sustainable, do-it-yourself style lifestyle, Mr Gardner believes.
The Beekeeping Field Day attracts a mix of experienced and novice beekeepers.
Open hive demonstrations, a beginners corner, sales of mated-queen bees and machinery demonstrations will be among the activities on the day.
Some of the commercial beekeepers attending have several generations of experience under their belts, while many of the smaller scale operators will have begun beekeeping in recent years.
“It’s about learning and understanding about the life of bees and their management and producing honey and other products,” Mr Gardner said.
“People are constantly fascinated by the complexity and the capacity and the life of bees inside a beehive.”
39th Annual Beekeeping Field Day will take place at the Harcourt Leisure Centre on Sunday October 14 from 9.30am-3pm.
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