By Kirra Grimes

A FORMER medical scientist is creating a buzz in the hills of Mirboo North, turning what was once a “fascinating hobby” into a fully-fledged career.
Peter Gatehouse began selling locally-produced raw honey and beeswax products under the name ‘Hill Top Hives’ in the spring of 2016, after being retrenched after 22 years at the same company.
Up until then, he’d enjoyed beekeeping as an interest outside of working hours, which were spent in the laboratories of various hospitals and medical facilities in Melbourne.
Rather than despair, he saw the retrenchment as “an opportunity to create the lifestyle [he’d] always yearned for,” and hasn’t looked back since, not only selling the Hill Top Hives range of food and body products through dozens of local and city stockists, but also providing services including swarm/wild hive relocation, pollination, and consultancy.
Peter describes working with bees as “an absolute joy,” with his many years of experience in the lab proving a real advantage in developing his beekeeping skills.
“Being able to inspect hives for pests and diseases is not all that different to scanning different samples in a pathology laboratory,” he said.
“Once you have a good grasp of what’s normal and healthy, the abnormal and diseased is easier to spot.”
For anyone interested in beekeeping on their own property, but not sure where to start, Peter has the answers.
He offers hives for sale or for lease, and advice on how to care for your bees, so there’s an option to suit all levels of knowledge and commitment.
There are many advantages to having beehives on your property, Peter says, including increasing pollination for orchards and vegetable gardens; and the ‘feel good factor’ of knowing you’re doing your bit to help the honey bee survive.
They’re also fascinating insects to watch, he says.
“They don’t work for their individual needs, instead working together as one ‘organism’ – the colony or the hive.
“We could all learn a thing or two from the ways that bees live their lives.”