Buzzing to be involved with bees

Mudgee Bee Group - beekeeping through education, mentoring, and demonstration

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Buzzing to be involved with bees

Mudgee Bee Group - beekeeping through education, mentoring, and demonstration

The issue

Following a two day beekeeping course hosted by Watershed Landcare and delivered by Tocal College in April 2016 a number of Watershed members and graduates of the course identified a need for more 'bee learning'. The interest generated highlighted a growing untapped potential to introduce people to Landcare and that like Landcare, a diverse range of people are keen to keep bees.

The solution

In mid 2016, the Mudgee Bee Group formed as a Watershed Landcare community of practice to provide further training, peer support and mentoring to it's members. Watershed Landcare supports the group through coordinator support and funding and to tap into special bee keeping skills and experience, the group is also affiliated with the NSW Amateur Beekeeping Association. This unique partnership provides dual membership and also access to specialist insurance packages.

The Mudgee Bee Group meets monthly and hosts guest speakers as well as carrying out inspections of its hives.

The impact

Thanks to the generosity of its members, the group has four community bee hives that it manages to enable members to "try before they buy" so to speak and for novice beekeepers to hone their skills and increase their confidence. Currently there are four standard 8 frames hives but over time this will change to include other hive design such as lang long and waree hives, in addition to a flowhive that has been generously donated by Beeincentive.

In February this year, another beekeeping course was conducted with Bruce White OAM. Bruce has been working with bees since he was 6 and had a distinguished career in with the NSW Department of Primaries Industries as an apiary specialist presented the course and in no time at all had people opening hives, lighting smokers, trapping pollen, finding the ever elusive queens in amongst her thousands of offspring and catching and marking drones.

The Mudgee Bee Group provides a supportive and encouraging environment for people to learn more about bees and beekeeping. It is hoped that after next spring/summer, the group will have its own labelled honey to sell to the community too!

A big thanks to the NSW Amateur Beekeeping Association for their ongoing support and for the Australian Rural Education Centre (AREC) that hosts the community hives and the straw bale building for meetings.

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Key facts

  • There are currently 30 members in the Mudgee Bee Group
  • The four community hives help members gain confidence in handling bees and to see different hives in practice.
  • An affiliation with the NSW Amateur Beekeeping Association has provided specialist bee knowledge as well as connections to other beekeeping groups.

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