Between industrial agriculture, parasites, pathogens and climate change the world is now facing the extinction of a very important species - bees.
What would happen if there were no bees in our world?
To put it simply, no bees = no life.
One in every three bites we eat are from foods that need to be pollinated by insects, and our little friends - the honey bees - are responsible for the majority of this pollination.
Maya Sunny Honey is a 100% raw honey range, handcrafted wholly by Andrew and his hard-working bees from Mudgee, NSW, Australia. By working closely with his hives, Andrew is able to create new and innovative ways to help fight the battles our bees are facing every day.
We spoke with Andrew about his passion for the humble honey bee, to uncover how he and his team are helping to stop the decline and to find out just why Maya Sunny Honey is so damn tasty.
Why/how did you get into beekeeping?
Both my parents where beekeepers and as a young child I would always observe them and assist them out on the farm. Growing up in the countryside of Poland I was always fascinated by how they worked together and how they communicated with one another. It amazed me how these little insects had such an enormous impact on society and I wanted to find out more about them and help them do their job without interfering with what they do best.
I also wanted to share my knowledge about bees with everyone, so I became an Apiarist lecturer at an Agricultural University in Poland. I was given the opportunity to migrate to Australia and work for a queen bee production company. This was my dream, to move to a country that had perfect weather conditions for the bees all year round with beautiful flora and fauna.
Where do the bees come from that you use in your hives?
I like to work with Italian and Caucasian bees as they produce the most honey. I have found that with my honeycomb invention the Italian and Caucasian bees are the strongest and have adapted to this unique system. A set of jars is placed upside down on a box beehive and the bees travel from the hive up into each jar and build the honeycomb from scratch, without any foundation.
The end product is like a mini beehive, but without the bees in the jar.
What is so special about the honey that comes from the Mudgee region?
The region is known for its native bushland. The bushland contains lots of different and rich Eucalyptus flora. To keep the bees healthy and to continue our delicious honey range, we move the beehives to different locations. We are always looking for new locations to put our beehives. Location is key.
There is a lot of news surrounding the decline of bees - What would a world without bees mean?
No bees, no life. The health and safety of our bees is very important. Not only do bees produce honey, but also, they are the biggest pollinators of flowering plants and crops. Pollination is not just important for the food we consume directly, but also important for the livestock we depend on. If bees do not pollinate the crops, the crops will not grow and produce the food that we consume. Albert Einstein quoted “If the bee disappears off the face of the Earth, man would only have four years to live”.
What are some of the biggest killers for bees?
One of the major problems beekeepers are faced within Australia is the small hive beetle. This small beetle enters a beehive and acts as a bee and then eventually multiples and takes over the hive leaving the bees with depression and them not wanting to work and live.
In a traditional box beehive, it’s too dark for beekeepers to observe inside the hive. I have designed a special beehive from a water tank, which opens up from the sides where I can observe the bees and check for any diseases. I am currently in the process of designing a Small Hive Beetle trap that will stop the Small Hive Beetle from entering the beehive and attacking the bees.
I believe my trap will help not only beekeepers in Australia but around the world fight this disease.
What can we do to help contribute to stopping the decline of bees?
Just as much as bees being critical for human life to survive, it is also very important we help our little friends in their survival on earth.
- Plant more trees and bee friendly flowers and herbs.
- Don’t use pesticides or chemicals that may harm bees.
- Support local beekeepers and buy Australian raw Honey.
- Speak to your local beekeepers and get knowledgeable about bees.
- Bees also drink water so be sure to have a water basin in your backyard for them to drink.
Is beekeeping something that anybody could do?
Yes, if you have a passion for bees and nature and want to make a difference to the environment, get involved!
What are your favourite bee facts?
- No bees, no life
- Honey is a concentrated form of energy, captured by sunshine
- Bees are delicate creatures
- The waggle dance tells the bees how far away the flowers are, and in what direction to fly in
- A bee can visit 15-20 single flowers in one minute
- A worker bee can carry up to half its body weight in nectar inside its honey stomach
- It takes a worker bee its lifetime (40 days) to make a teaspoon of honey
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