Each year the beekeeping club from the Gympie area (Valley Bees) holds an open day. One year we went along, and it was a wonderful day, I was surprised by the professional and informative displays. We learnt about solitary bees, Australian native stingless bees and top-bar hives. We bought a couple of books, this was before we had our own hives!
Why keep bees? Pollination, honey, wax and another addictive hobby!
wax for candles and making salve
Here's a couple of the books we bought
Overall, we decided that the easiest thing to do would be to encourage solitary bees in our garden. This should help with pollination, but we won't get any honey! Here's a good post about solitary bees.
solitary bee hotels
more examples of how to attract solitary bees
The next step would be a hive of Australian native stingless bees. These are relatively easy to manage because they don't sting! They also make a little bit of honey and wax. At the open day we saw how one full hive can be split to create two hives. In this way you can expand the number of hives and spread them around your property. The bees only travel 500 m, so you can keep them in your garden to help with pollination. There are a few different varieties of bees and if we can find some wild ones on our property we might be able to persuade them to live in a box....
an Australian native stingless bee hive
Houses for Australian native stingless bees
Australian native stingless bee hives
Surprisingly there wasn't much information about conventional bee keeping! But we did get to see a "top bar hive", which I had heard about, so it was really good to see one up close. If we do eventually get European honey bees, I am interested in using this type of hive, or at least understanding the concepts of natural bee keeping.
a top bar hive
alternative hive design
here's a job for Taz is she doesn't want to herd cattle!
Overall, it was an excellent day out, and enjoyed by many others, the hall was packed! We have some books to read and lots more to learn, so this gave us a good overview. If they run the day again next year and you're anywhere between Brisbane and Maryborough, I recommend you try to go along.
What do you think? Do you keep bees? Or attract solitary bees? Any good resources you can recommend for new bee keepers?