Thursday, September 18, 2014

Bees, Australia v Italy

My musing on bees.

I made it to my second meeting (it only took me 12 months) of the Southern Beekeepers Association last night and renewed my membership while I was there,
Also I was asked if I had any hives and rather sheepishly I had to admit I didn't and I started thinking that maybe I need to make some sort of comment on my bee future.

As with most things with me it comes down to the bottom line of either, what's practical and makes sense, or, how much does it cost but in this case it's a blend of the two.

Why do I want a bee hive?

Mainly for pollination and I like to have bees in the garden. Because of this I was leaning towards a native bee hive.

During my research however I came across a fairly significant hurdle. Cost! My research found the cost of an established native stingless bee hive ranged between $350 to $495.

It was this cost that has made me swing back to honey bees but another fact I uncovered made honey bees an even more convincing argument in my mind is that honey bees give you honey (yeah I know, who'd have thought, right?). And this in the deal breaker, about 40kg per year of the stuff.

Now 'honey' was never the main aim of having bees either native or European, in my case Italian (I learnt this last night, clever, huh?) but the cost to set up for honey bees is similar if not less than the cost of a native bee hive and with native bees you might get 1kg of honey per year, though I'm told it does tastes pretty good.

So deal done and the winner is Honey Bees by 39kg.

Next Meeting I'll find out what I need to get started and a firm idea of how much it will cost me.



Any comments are welcome.


The Old Dairy said...

Keep me posted as I would love to get a hive as well and am wondering how much work is involved

Stewart Dorman said...

Yep, will do. I'm probably 3 or 4 months from getting a hive. I'd like to have more of an idea of what I'm doing first.

Roll said...

Hey Stewart, cool.. I've had similar musings.. here's a couple of things to keep in mind..

For less than $100 if you're good with wood you can make your own native bee hive boxes, then its either a matter of waiting to see if a hive colonises it (could take literally forever), or asking people if they see any hives in annoying places (like between buildings, next to foot paths etc).. then just keep an eye out in stupid places like water meter boxes when you're walking down the street, or stop and ask people who're cutting down trees.. hives are almost everywhere, once you find one you could probably transport it (free).. : )

Another thing is, with the pollination.. I watch the bees in the garden quite a lot, cuz of my bee interests.. I've noticed that the stingless bees don't visit much of the veggie garden, blue banded solitary bees do, occasionally I see stingless bees (mostly on things like watermelon), and occasionally i see two other varieties of solitary bees or a european bee. But basically I think its the combination of bees and the bee ecosystem as such that gives your best combination. You should look at adding some solitary bee drill holes and creating some stacks for them near your veggies if your primary interest is pollination :)

Next one, cost! I thought the european bee set up was upwards of $800+ ?? By the time you count in the annual permit, the clothes, equipment (smoker, thingy, maybe honey processing equipment and containers, everything), then add on the cost of a proper kitted out hive with queen excluder, a heap of wax thingies in it, and the cost of a nucleus and queen ready to go.. hmmm.. I though the native bee route was 'much' cheaper haha.

Anyway, I'll be keeping an eye on what you do, incase I do the same thing haha :)