Co-op training a new generation of beekeepers

Glenda Holowaty of The Australian Beekeepers Cooperative Limited explains how the co-op members are a part of a new beekeeper’s journey: fostering an interest in all things bees, presenting beekeeping as a possible livelihood if chosen, and teaching our young beekeepers exemplary hive care.

My 13 ¾ year old son regaled me with his tales of woe after a day’s beekeeping with Dad. ‘So I leaned on a beehive and three bees went up my shorts. I started dancing and thankfully they flew out again. One bee later crawled in my hair and stung me behind the ear!’ Dave and I exchanged smiles, and I checked the afflicted ear region before I asked the all- important question: ‘Why weren’t you wearing a veil and trousers?’ Teenage Son #4 shrugged and said he didn’t need to. He was genuinely fearless of the bees.

The fearlessness of beekeepers (generally) is a trait I really admire. Not fearful of opening a hive with thousands of buzzing bees, beekeepers display a certain calmness, focused on the job ahead.

Beekeepers are unique. My husband, a hobby beekeeper, is certainly unique. Beekeepers are often independent characters, on the road travelling from site to site, working from dawn to dusk (and then some more) – they are wholly committed to their bees, families and communities. I frequently chat with the Australian Beekeeper Cooperative Limited members and they are a fountain of information: providing updates on regional land conditions, the current state of their hives and when their next baby (or Grand Baby) is due.

Aussie beekeepers are similar to farmers, predicting honey flows, the likelihood of rain next week and the next season’s expected honey quantities with uncanny accuracy. It’s a small beekeeper world and many Cooperative members offer support to others in the beekeeping community when needs arise.

These last 18 months have been very tough for beekeepers waiting for vegetation to re-grow and flowers to bloom again after fires and floods. Beekeepers have anxiously watched the condition of their hives as bees have fought for survival through another winter with limited natural sustenance. Some country regions are still in drought and communities are still hurting.

During this winter period, our Cooperative members have kept busy: making mechanical repairs on beekeeping equipment; building and repairing bee boxes; reframing; spending valuable time with family and friends; and teaching a new generation of beekeepers how to prepare for the Spring honey flows.

Experienced and established beekeepers have so much to share. From the hobbyist to commercial beekeeper, our Cooperative members bond together. Have a problem? One of our members will give you a call. Not sure what to do? A beekeeper who’s been there will know. The strength of our Cooperative is our members. The strength of the Australian Honey Industry is our future generations of beekeepers. Our membership recognizes the importance of helping mentor less experienced beekeepers, sometimes from within our own beekeeping families.

I always wondered if Son #4 would become a beekeeper. His lack of fear for bees was evident early: he stood in between beehives to avoid being ‘tagged’ by his brothers in a game. He later stuck his finger into multiple bee hive openings ‘to see what would happen’.

Australian Beekeeper Cooperative members are willing to be part of a new beekeeper’s journey: fostering an interest in all things bees, presenting beekeeping as a possible livelihood if chosen, and teaching our young beekeepers exemplary hive care. Our members encourage new beekeepers to aim higher than industry standards, to consider how technology can innovate current beekeeping processes and initiate more bee-related research. They support a fearless approach that is focused on creating a stronger, more resilient Australian honey industry.

The next generation of beekeepers can and should go further to save the bees. Our Australian Beekeeping Cooperative members are proud to be part of training a new generation of Aussie beekeepers keen to do this. Together, with our bees, we can promote the finest Australian honey and honey products to the world.

Glenda Holowaty

Glenda Holowaty
Administration Manager
The Australian Beekeepers Cooperative Limited

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