PODCAST EPISODE 23: Sarah Hamilton, Native Beekeeper and founder of BeeYourself, Brisbane, Australia
These days the honeybee is well-known and well-loved. Of course, I completely understand why – these little darlings pollinate 70% of the world’s food crops, so what’s not to love! In comparison, native bees don’t get nearly as much press as they deserve. Hugely diverse across the globe and each with their characters and unique abilities, native bees are the unsung heroes of the bee world. With smaller populations and less understood needs, their food supplies and homes can be threatened, with some species even facing extinction.
Australia is also home to a number of very special, unusual and useful native bees, that are an important part of the bushland. Before the introduction of honeybees in 1823, there were, and still are, some 1600 species of indigenous bee in Australia! They come in all shapes, sizes and colours, be that black, yellow, red, metallic green, blue polka dotted and striped! Some are fat and furry, while others are sleek and shiny. At their extremes, Australia’s tiniest native bee of just 2mm comes from Cape York and is known as the Quasihesma bee; on the other end of the spectrum, Australia’s largest native bee, the 24mm long Great Carpenter Bee, can be found in the tropical north and northern NSW. Due to their general small size, some native bees can be confused for flies. To my knowledge, of the ten major groups of native bees in Australia, stingless bees prefer warm climates (and not residing in Victoria) and is the only bee currently available for sale in Australia.
And with that introduction, I would like to make a second introduction, and welcome the wonderful Sarah Hamilton to the BEES WITH BEN beekeeping podcast for episode 23. Sarah is an Australian native beekeeper based in Brisbane, who sells her hives down the east coast of Australia and runs the website and venture BeeYourself. According to Sarah, “Australian native bees help pollinate your gardens and or crops, helping them bloom to their greatest potential, they produce a unique honey and they are stingless. The good news is that it is very simple to install and maintain a hive of your own”; with that in mind, I would highly recommend anyone interested in native bees gets in touch with Sarah to discuss how they can come to own and nurture some native colonies – a fantastic and worthwhile addition to the local fauna-scape. Listen in to hear Sarah and I chat about threats to native bees, the huge price tag attached to stingless bee honey ($250-$500 per kilo!), honey production levels, and the benefits of keeping stingless bees in schools, kindergartens and hospitals. Let’s learn about and from native bees in Australia, with the help of Sarah Hamilton. Tune in!