Getting to Know You: Simon Mulvany
You have to count yourself lucky when your friends and colleagues are some of the most inspiring, driven and intelligent people you know. Recently, we looked at the social enterprise that has been running in Australia since 2013, Save the Bees. Simon Mulvany is the man behind this amazing venture, and I am blessed to have built a wonderful friendship and professional alliance with him over the years. Simon is a philosophical guy with an action-based approach. He seeks to help bees at every turn, especially where unethical practices are concerned. This has been proven in his ongoing legal battle with Capilano honey; in turn, I urge you all to do whatever you can to support both this cause, and Simon’s courageous actions, especially as they are ongoing, in the courts and the community. It was a pleasure to spend some time reflecting on this passionate man, his history and his motivations.
There are many aspects of life that Simon and I can bond over. We are both fathers. We both strive to do the best we can for our families. But Simon’s story is special in many ways; there have been some really tough times in the past, and Simon has dealt with these lows with his usual courage and integrity. Looking back, Simon recalls struggling with the regimentation of educational systems and workplaces (something I understand myself); regardless, he did quite well in his assignments and exams, but then rebelled, broke free from the system, and spent the next ten years travelling: “During that period I spent a lot of time surfing, diving and spear fishing. I worked on vineyards and as a pearl diver and dive assistant”. Eventually he made the choice to settle in Blairgowrie, Victoria, work as a park ranger and start a family—in turn, his wonderful son, Oscar, was born. However, very tragically, Oscar and Simon lost Oscar’s mum, Georgie, soon after. I can only imagine how completely devastating this must have been, and my heart goes out to Simon every time I think about this chapter of his life.
During his stint as a ranger, Simon was lowly paid and spent much of his time spraying huge amounts of herbicides. Disgusted at the ethics behind the job, Simon quit, and started his own gardening business, became a beekeeper, and in 2013 he set up Save the Bees. He describes the very profound moment he fell in love with bees, one that I will never forget: “At this time, I probably should have been depressed by society’s standards. I was in debt and facing the future as a single father. But on this sunny day, there it was—a compost bin with bees in it. There was a hum and a sweet aroma coming from the bin. I carefully opened the lid and transferred the colony into a box. Watching the bees communicate was like witnessing magic. They lived in harmony and did not enforce suffering on any of their colony. I realised that the bees had it right and humanity had it wrong. I had a beautiful day staring a bin full of bees.” This experience led Simon to push with guts and compassion to educate the people of Australia, and the world, about injustices within apiary, agriculture and general capitalist society that threaten the existence of bees, day in day out.
Profit doesn’t drive Save the Bees, ethics do. Simon said to me once, “We can be the cure of the disease, it’s up to each of us”—I will never forget that, and he reminds me about it every day in his actions, his commitment, and his generosity.