YOU can make money, a good living in fact, out of honey production but it’s not just a matter of setting up your hives and watching the bank balance build up on its own.
Like most farming pursuits, it’s a labour intensive job that demands a broad range of skills from the operator.
Which is exactly what Rob and Sharon Fisher have found since establishing their bee-keeping business at Dumbalk eight years ago.
Since then they’ve branched out into the sale of jams, relishes, eggs, quince paste, lemon butter, cordial and a range of other products, including everything for the bee-keeper.
And later this year, they plan to stage courses in bee-keeping and advanced bee-keeping for those looking to enter the industry themselves.
Last weekend they were out at the Foster Show, not only selling and talking up the benefits of locally grown honey, but also selling their other spreads and scooping the pool in the preserves sections at the show.
“It’s been fun day,” said Rob, listing some of the prizes won by their kids Kelsey and Tahlia.
“We’ve got 26 hives and the honey we produce locally is mostly clover honey, off eucalypts, banksias and the like.
“It’s a lot of work really. You’ve really got to look after your hives and your bees, keeping up the maintenance etc. It’s not just a matter of setting up a hive and waiting for the honey to build up. There’s a whole process.”
Rob and Sharon believe in sharing their experience and, as well as the new venture into bee-keeping workshops, they also helped establish the South Gippsland Bee-keepers Club as a way of pooling resources and sharing ideas.
One of the things the South Gippsland Bee-keepers do is have a Swarm Co-ordinator who fields requests and reports from the community during swarming season, usually between October and December, to go and pick up new swarms of bees.
“People contact us and we refer it on to the Swarm Coordinator who’ll send someone out.”
There’s another issue that goes with the territory, getting stung by the bees, and according to Rob, it’s a paid that all bee-keepers have to deal with.
“Look, you don’t get stung all that often but it’s easy to handle the bees with your bare hands, so, yes you do get stung from time to time.
“I’m not allergic to bees and it’s not really a problem.”
And as for the new ‘Flow Hive’ invention, Rob is staying clear, saying it’s too expensive and preferring the personal touch of working with the bees in a natural process.
And, once again, as with most boutique farming pursuits, you’ve got to work hard on sales and marketing.
Dumbalk – the land of milk and honey