Episode 85 of the Bees with Ben podcast is co-hosted by Dr Anna Carrucan, a second-generation beekeeper and botanist, and the driving force behind Buukaar Waaruung boutique apiary and artisan honey. Also along for the ride (but taking something of a back seat on this occasion) is Simon Mildren from The Hive Buddy, a website dedicated to bees and beekeepers.
Buukaar Waaruung is a niche agrarian enterprise that seeks to elevate beekeeping, celebrate fine honey, and sustain ecology and pollination on the majestic volcanic plains of Victoria’s Western District. Single-origin raw honey is produced in a sustainable and ethical manner, from one hive at a time; it’s a limited-edition, small batch harvest with a taste that is truly reflective of the local landscape!
Anna grew up in south-west Victoria, on a rural property surrounded by farmland. Her father operated a semi-commercial apiary for some time, and hence bees became part of her life from a young age, and she pleaded for a hive of her own! An abiding interest in ecology and the natural environment eventually led to a PhD in botany, and when her rural home was ravaged by fire in 2018, Anna (also a qualified teacher) conceived the idea to build something from her combined knowledge of flora, science, education and bees. Thus Buukaar Waaruung was born.
Anna aims to enhance the understanding and appreciation of bees and beekeeping. She works with gardeners and farmers to increase awareness about pollination services and planting bee habitat, as well as providing farm pollination consultations, hive management, mentoring and education for beekeepers. She is also in demand as a specialist speaker for networks, groups, conferences and events.
In this podcast, Ben and Anna discuss the merits of the ProtectaBEE all-in-one adjustable hive entrance that is currently exceeding expectations on the crowd-finding site Indiegogo. Not only can the ProtectaBEE apparently exclude pests like wasps, hornets, robber bees, mice and other predators from the hive, but it can also be used to deliver treatments for varroa mites, diseases and pesticide poisoning. The Protectabee’s conical inserts are claimed to mazimise bee movement while establishing an effective physical barrier against predators. Traffic in and out of the hive can be conveniently enhanced (in times of growth), reduced (to aid in winter warming) or even eliminated (when moving hives) by the use of a variety of inserts.
The promotional material cites the research of Dr Peter Kevan, from the University of Guelph, who more then twenty years ago came up with the concept of using bees to carry fungal powders to plants to fight pests and diseases; bee vectoring has since been used to improve the health of crops such as strawberries and blueberries. Likewise, Dr Kevan hypothesized that bee vectoring could be effective in combatting pests and diseases inside the hive. Normally, if powders are placed in a hive, the bees will simply carry them out, however, research has evidently shown that ProtectaBEE facilitates treatment inside the hive, and that the device has potential to reduce varroa mites, as well as effectively treating foulbrood and other pests and diseases.
ProtectaBEE has been designed to fit both Langstroth and Flow hives; it has been featured in Bee Culture magazine, and is simply and easy to install, as well as being relatively cost effective. The first production run is scheduled for delivery in June 2022, and discounted prices are available for prepurchase via Indiegogo. So what do our experts think? You’ll have to listen to the podcast!