Artists are known to be eccentric people, but from my experience, some of the best and most interesting beekeepers are similarly colourful characters.
To be so obsessed with one small, yet mighty, creature takes a certain personality, and a little wackiness and a lot of passion seem to be quite the usual key ingredients in the recipe of a great beekeeper.
That’s why I am excited to introduce you to Stephen Heatley, owner of Kangaroo Island Ligurian Queen Bees, Kangaroo Island, for Episode 12 of the Bees With Ben beekeeping podcast.
Any of you that have visited Kangaroo Island know is a truly magnificent place. Situated off the mainland of South Australia near Adelaide, this glorious part of the world captivates all who visit its shores.
Did you know that over a third of Kangaroo Island is protected as nature reserves?
This gem is home to an abundance of native wildlife like sea lions, koalas and a myriad of bird species. In the west, Flinders Chase National Park is famous for its penguin colonies and striking coastal rock formations, stalactite-strewn Admirals Arch and the sculpted Remarkable Rocks. Maybe it’s being surrounded by this glorious nature that makes this passionate beekeeper from Kangaroo Island such a special and remarkable character.
Stephen grew up on the Australian mainland in New South Wales but moved to Kangaroo Island 13 years ago to pursue his passion for bees. There are only a small number of commercial beekeepers on the island, and while they focus predominantly on producing honey, Stephen has a passion for a special strain of queen bee – the Ligurian Queen Bee – which apparently can only be found in its pure form on the secluded Kangaroo Island, and is believed to have been introduced into Australia by the United States in 1885 from Italy.
You will hear just how passionate Stephen is about these unique queens, and you will learn how he is working hard to keep them alive and well in one of Australia’s most spectacular and special nature locations.
Tune in to hear this eccentric and wonderful beekeeper, queen breeder, and honey producer talk about his business, Kangaroo Island Ligurian Queen Bees; about bouncing back from the fires that devastated the Island earlier in the year, including the time it takes for flora to rejuvenate to the stage where bees can get a good feed; about the Ligurian Bee Monument; and many other very niche aspects of beekeeping with the brilliant and quirky Stephen Heatley.
Listen to the podcast here.