Brendon Fewster (aka Buzz) and Brad Gresele (aka Bear) are Gingin beekeepers who you may spot on a hot February day, tucked away in the bush, dressed like astronauts, “robbing” honey.
That’s the life of a beekeeper.
It’s a sticky business and with around 200 plus stings on your hands a day, not for the faint hearted.
Brendon Fewster, a fourth generation beekeeper was born into this life from a long line of beekeepers. Whilst he had a short break to kick some goals for the West Coast Eagles he has returned to beekeeping.
When Brendon’s mate, Brad completed his apprenticeship as a mechanic he jumped at the chance to work with Brendon’s father, Max, to learn the beekeeping trade.
Buzz and Bear now work together like a well oiled machine robbing their 1100 hives, music blaring and good aussie humour flowing while their employees, the bees are busy making honey. You have to wonder why this is a dying trade, as they make it look like so much fun.
It typically takes them a day to harvest about 100 hives and each hive produces honey about 2-3 times per ‘honey flow’. Their hives are scattered across local farms and properties, with landowners offering them right of way, often in return for a tub of honey. The best locations for hives are those with redgum, jarrah, whitegum or banksia trees or fields of canola.
Over the summer months they harvest the honey and every year sell some of their worker bees to Canada, who seek the disease free, WA bees for pollination. Along with around 14 other beekeepers, Buzz and Bear sell their honey to Wescobee, a WA beekeepers cooperative.
Recently, the current Wescobee board accepted a $5 million offer from Capilano subject to approval by shareholders in the 89-year-old WA company. It was reported in the West Australian on the 28th Feb, that a group of dissident shareholders is trying to oust board members to prevent the sale of Wescobee’s brand name, honey stocks and plant and equipment to Queensland based Capilano.
The row will come to a head on March 22 when Wescobee’s 120 or so shareholders, almost all of them beekeepers or former beekeepers, vote on the board changes and the sale proposal. Whatever the business outcome, Buzz and Bear will continue to provide fabulous role models for future beekeepers and their busy bees will create that amazing product “honey”.