PODCAST EPISODE 14: Michael Kiem from Denmar Apiaries, Cloyna, Queensland
Due to the vastness of Australia, much business happens via road and air. This extends to apiary and beekeeping, and in one great example, I source my queen bees from a wonderful keeper and breeder, Michael Kiem from Denmar Apiaries, way up in Cloyna, Queensland. Michael runs his apiary with his wife Crystal and is one of the biggest queen breeders in Australia, breeding around 30,000 queen bees per year! And that is a very important job! These little gems and builders of the colony are shipped, via Australia Post would you believe, all across the country; in my case, they travel down to Victoria where I give them their second happy home. A keeper fit for a queen (bee), I am thrilled to introduce Michael to my community for episode 14 of the BEES WITH BEN beekeeping podcast.
To begin, let’s have a quick chat about the queen bee. The highest-ranking position in the honeybee society, the queen bee is the dominant adult in the colony and is the mother of most, if not all, the bees in the group. She can be recognised by her characteristically large abdomen and is typically the only bee of her type in the hive. Mating with many drone bees until she is fertilised, the queen then lays up to 1500 eggs each day during spring and summer, creating the colony itself. Queens have been known to colonise a hive for up to five years; however, once she cannot produce enough eggs to sustain the group, a new queen bee must take her place. Future queen bee larvae are chosen carefully by the worker bees and then nourished with a protein-rich secretion called “royal jelly”. This superfood ensures that new queens will be sexually mature enough to start the cycle all over again. However, in a dramatic beginning to life, the newly hatched queen must not only destroy unhatched rivals but also kill any existing queens in the colony!
No one knows queens like Michael Kiem. He does a lot of driving around the countryside to areas where there are flowers for his bees. Denmar Apiaries is a small, family-run business and with two full-time employees – his 13-year-old son is keen on bees too and is great at catching queens! Michael brought the business just over ten years ago from the original owners, Dennis and Margaret Kidd (who he learnt so much from); however, he also worked in Canada with a big queen breeder – he is a definite oracle on the subject! Tune in to hear Michael and I chat about his business, his positive relationship with Australia Post (helped along with a few pots of delicious honey from time to time!), the Australian queen market, his hatred of paperwork, his love of plastic bee cages, and, of course, his beer can collection!
Available on all podcast platforms like Spotify and iTunes, just search Bees With Ben.