Producers Name: Scott Whitaker and Allyson Reynolds
Farm: Hinterland Bees
Location: North Maleny
Years of Operation: Eight
GC&M News caught up with Maleny’s Scott Whitaker, owner of Hinterland Bees and Maleny Honey, to chat all thing bees and honey after a frustrating wet season.
Can you describe what you do?
Well, we accidently became honey producers really, almost eight years ago now. We own 150 production hives, which are spread over nine sites along the range from Mapleton in the north, through Maleny and out towards Peachester, which produce the honey we sell. We also sell bees to people who are interested in getting into beekeeper, and as well as that we rescue and relocate bees – both swarms (bees searching for a nest) and hives.
How did it all begin?
Ally and I have been interested in bees for a long time, but it really all began with Ally who had her first hive back in 1996. We’ve been in Maleny for 12 years now, and it was almost eight years ago I got a call from a friend to come collect a swarm from a school in Brisbane; word got around and it grew from there and we ended up with seven colonies after a short period of time. As they started to accumulate, we ended up with a lot of honey. I approached IGA Maleny about selling it and we’ve been supplying it there ever since.
What’s involved in the process of producing honey?
The bees collect nectar and attached it to the frames of the beehives within our apiaries – at this stage it’s generally about 80% moisture – they then apply a honey wax cap and a natural reduction in moisture occurs. It’s from here we take over – collecting the hives and taking them to our custom built honey house. We then cut the outer wax layers off the frames and they’re placed and spun in an extractor barrel. They’re then tapped, filtered and bottled for sale.
How many hives do you have and where are they located?
We have nine sites across the range, each with about 10-20 hives on each apiary – approximately 150 production hives all up.
How has the recent wet weather affected the season?
The almost constant rain we’ve received over the last few months has meant that a lot of the bees nectar simply washes away; this season has been one of our worst for that reason. Bees need balance, so often a large colony will stay in the hive and reproduce, continuing to thrive; whereas a smaller colony may not be able to as they simply don’t have enough to sustain life.
Can you tell me a little about your relocation service?
There’s a lot involved in the relocation of bees, particularly where there’s a hive involved. Once the hive is established, they’re generally only going to grow bigger, so if they’ve found a space inside your home, it’s best to have them removed. If they’re swarming, they’re looking for a new home and their chance of survival without intervention is diminished.
We locate all bees to our North Maleny property.
Where can we buy Maleny Honey?
Maleny Honey is available at IGA Maleny and the Maple Street Co-op, as well as a number of smaller retailers. As our production grows, we’re always looking for stockists.