PODCAST EPISODE 1: Simeon Valkenburg from Valkenburg Apiaries
It doesn’t happen every day, so when you meet someone that you know will be both a friend and mentor, it’s a glorious moment. That was the exact feeling I had when I first met Simeon Valkenburgback in 2016, making Episode One of the BEES WITH BEN podcast super special.
It was early springtime in Townsville, and Simeon and his brother Paul were part of a group of us – six beekeepers in total – who got together and volunteered to help with the Asian Honeybee varroa mite incursion that happened there at that time. I soon realised I was amongst very incredible company, and our experience working together in the far north was eye-opening, bonding and inspiring. The Valkenburg brothers are beekeepers based in South Australia. Together they run Valkenburg Apiaries, as well as invaluable initiatives such as the Beekeepers Field Day in Renmark, which educates about the vital connection between bees and almond production. Incredibly passionate, dedicated, politically engaged, and hardworking, Simeon and Paul are easily some, if not the, best commercial beekeepers I know in Australia.
As Simeon describes, a commercial beekeeping venture needs to be built on both passion and integrity, no matter how your business grows: “Together with my brother Paul, I have been working for a number of years building our beekeeping business. We manage over a thousand hives, which is generally considered a medium sized operation by South Australian standards. We derive most of our turnover from bulk honey production. When it comes to managing an apiary business, it is the bee husbandry part which particularly captures my interest. In our opinion, the keynote to commercial success in the beekeeping industry is contained in the old adage, ‘If you look after your bees, they will look after you’.” With a focus on positive communication and reciprocated benefits with land holders in their area, the brothers honey production and pollination services have earnt them a stellar reputation – they understand the importance of a mutually beneficial relationship with other farmers and community members, and this integrity shines through in their work on so many levels.
Since we first met in far north Queensland, I have had a great deal to do with Simeon at conventions and events around the country. For this reason, it is a total pleasure to be able to introduce you, the Ben’s Bees community, to Simeon himself, as we chat about Valkenburg Apiaries, bee nutrition, and the highlights and challenges of running a commercial beekeeping business in Australia. Tune in! x https://anchor.fm/ben-the-beeman