This episode of the Bees with Ben podcast focusses on the transition from hobbyist to full-time commercial beekeeper.
With the aid of Ben’s special guest, Matthew Petersen from Dividing Creek Farm we talk about the process.
Matt says he grew up on a dairy farm with a large orchard, and his dad always had five or six hives, so he was bitten by the bee bug very early in life.
However, Matt’s father passed away when he was still quite young, and Matt moved to Melbourne to make money to buy the farm.
He tells Ben he started an epoxy flooring business installing hygienic flooring systems in food processing plants, abattoirs, and fast-food businesses.
His main customer base came from the food industry, and it gave him some insight into food production.
He realized how much he missed the bees and raised nucs to fill in time and to maintain the connection between bees and the farm.
For Matt, the whole reason for raising capital through his business was to enable him to purchase the beef farm.
One near Wilsons Promontory in south Gippsland.
Here he raises Angus, grass-fed beef – bees were always on the side.
But when the bug really kicked in in his mid-20s, Matt found himself juggling a flooring business, a farm, and the bees.
He was simply wearing himself out.
He reckons the transition to full-time beekeeper took about seven years and says that any hobbyist wanting to go full-time will experience a similar situation.
Iin that you need capital, a job, or some form of back up until you get yourself established. Ben agrees.
The Pivotal Moment
Interestingly, Matt reveals that for him, Covid was the final trigger, since lockdowns.
As well as the inability to travel interstate meant that he lost much of his flooring clientele overnight.
Ben asks Matt to tell us his biggest highs and lows with bees.
Matt says the biggest high is seeing people consume your product and really enjoy it.
His biggest low came this season when he lost 40% of his hives in a flash flood.
He had 120 hives set up to go onto red gum on an old, dry creek bed near Bendigo when a freak storm cell dumped 70ml of rain in twenty minutes about 20km upstream.
Matthew says there was no warning, and it didn’t even rain where the bees were.
But they were struck by a four-metre flood, and he is still finding boxes 15km downstream.
Matt says it was heartbreaking, but you only get a sore neck looking backwards!
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