Claire Moore didn't think she even had a chance in the Victorian AgriFutures Rural Women's Award.
So it was a huge surprise when she won on Thursday, with a plan to breed a genetically diverse strain of queen bees.
The project is a response to a global decline in bee numbers, which poses a risk to food chains worldwide, Ms Moore said.
To combat the decline she hopes to breed bees that are resistant to disease, produce large amounts of honey and are docile.
The award has come just in time. The prize money will allow Ms Moore to begin beekeeping study at Tocal College in NSW, on Tuesday.
She'll learn hive management, pollination services, queen breeding and hopefully, artificial insemination.
Ms Moore plans to be breeding queen bees by spring.
"I'm incredibly excited to be honest. The alumni of the Rural Women's Award... it's almost the elite of female farmers in Victoria," Ms Moore said.
"I didn't think I even had a chance. I hadn't even prepared a winners speech, and was completely blown away and surprised when I did win.
"I could not have funded this project without the award."
Ms Moore first got a swarm of bees when she was setting up a sustainable backyard in Melbourne.
She moved to Kyneton with her family to have more space to keep bees five years ago.
I'm incredibly excited to be honest. The alumni of the Rural Women's Award... it's almost the elite of female farmers in Victoria.Claire Moore
The global financial markets inspired her to breed bees.
At the same time as Ms Moore was watching the markets, the world was recording record hive loss.
She realised that if the economy was experiencing similar losses, Australia would have done something about it.
Now Ms Moore has a chance to realise her dream.
"It's really exciting, it's been something that I've wanted to do for 12 years," Ms Moore said.
"I am genuinely concerned about the global bee population.
"The bees and the plight of bees is really important to me, and close to my heart."
It's expensive to set up as a beekeeper from scratch.
So Ms Moore has started a a hive-share project, which will allow interested people to sponsor a hive in her apiary.
In return, she'll teach them the rudiments of beekeeping at the farm.
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