The Bees with Ben podcast episode 80 features the father and son combination of Mark, the eccentric ‘The Bush Bee Man’, and John (his son) who is responsible for holding the camera.
Their website describes Mark as a ‘quintessential farmer from the Australian outback region of the Riverland’. He’s noted for his humorous YouTube videos, and Ben struggles not to laugh as he recounts Mark’s hilarious attempts to keep his language in check!
Asked first up about the funniest incident on camera, John recalls a time when Mark risked serious burns when he opened the radiator cap on their vehicle. Mark reckons John won’t be able to get rid of him that easily! Mark says the whole process of working with bees has been a bonding experience, and John agrees that it has brought them closer together.
John explains that he runs a video production company. He was originally employed by Channel 10, and the bee work was an opportunity to showcase his talents – but it eventually became a full-time job.
The success of the videos has enabled him to invest in equipment and has also helped his parents to build up their honey business. John quips that a ‘rising tide lifts all boats’, whereupon Mark immediately accuses him of being some sort of philosopher!
Mark admits that he didn’t know how much effort went into making video production and that it’s ‘pretty intense’. They started out with a second-hand mic that John bought from an op shop for $5. Mark says that one of the hardest parts about prolonged filming is keeping his smoker alight – he says that attracted plenty of comments early on.
Mark confirms that they are up to nearly 50,000 subscribers on their YouTube channel and sends a big thank you to their Patreon supporters. John reveals that they shoot a month’s worth of content in two and a half days and that eighty minutes of the film is cut down to twenty in the finished product.
Mark thinks for a moment before declaring that his biggest mistake was, ‘Probably starting – but then you fall in love with them (bees) and there’s no hope for you!’
He admits to being surprised at how much manual labour is still involved in beekeeping, compared to other agricultural pursuits, but says that may be a good thing in that beekeeping won’t get taken over by big business. He tells Ben that he also has an almond orchard, which he established thirty years ago, which prompted his foray into beekeeping.
He recalls when he first planted his orchard, the locals couldn’t understand why he would only plant a single crop, as opposed to a variety of fruits that could be harvested all year round. Mark says the industry has exploded in recent years, and that it is now common practice to plant thousands of acres of almonds.
Mark says more farmers’ markets are definitely on the agenda for the future, but that finding the time is a problem at the moment. He is amazed at how many people come up to him at markets quoting the number of a video episode – then he has to look it up himself to see what they are talking about!
Regarding content, John says they plan a lot better now, but originally, he would simply say to Mark, ‘Dad, I’m coming up for three days; figure out some shit we can film!’
Listen to the podcast here.