April Sundowner – Bees Neez Apiaries
A really big thank you to Dave and Leilani of Bees Neez Apiaries and their two daughters for making us feel really welcome at their property in Beechina on Wednesday 21st April.
It was an interesting evening with Dave and Leilani giving a great presentation on the ins and outs of their commercial beekeeping operation. They have just over 670 hives in operation and are one of the largest commercial beekeepers in Western Australia. They now wholesale their honey direct to Capilano Honey, a 100% Australian Owned and Made brand.
The Leyland’s transport their hives all over the state which are then set on a mixture of private and crown lands. They take their hives as far north as Kalbarri and are even considering heading into the Pilbara.
Inside a hive, there can be up to 40,000 bees, each one having its own particularly important job to do. The Queen bee lays all the eggs and keeps the colony surviving and thriving. The female worker bees do all the hard work inside the hive, they clean, receive and store the nectar from the forager bees and then eventually become forager bees themselves. The male drones have only 1 job and that is to mate with the Queen, sadly for them, they die after performing this one task.
Another fascinating thing we were told was about how the bees communicate. The scout bees head out of the hive to find new food sources and upon their return will perform a dance. The round dance is performed when the food source is within 100 metres of the hive and the waggle dance is performed if the food source is further away. This dance resembles a figure of 8. Such clever little creatures!
Sadly, due to climate change and deforestation, a lot has changed in the industry over the nearly 40 years that Dave has been in the game. It was interesting to hear about these changes and how they are now having to diversify their business.
We were also given a tour of the extraction room to see how the honey gets from the hive to the big IBCs they are transported to the wholesaler in. The Leyland’s have worked hard over the years trying to automate processes and find ways to take out the manual handling. Dave used to load and unload his hives from his truck via a ramp and a wheelbarrow. Thankfully, he now has a big shed and a forklift to handle this part of the job.
Honey is a staple item in our household, and I’m pleased to now know how to support Australian beekeepers by buying 100% Australian Honey at the supermarket.