Life is sweet


Stung by his knowledge of 50 years’ experience as a bee-keeper, the students, kitted out in their protective clothing, were buzzing around Mr Oosting’s Edgcumbe Beach property to learn everything they could about keeping bees before they returned home to set up their own hives.

Earlier this month, the eager group were given a queen bee and two frames each to start their own hives.

A frame contains the wax chambers where the queen lays the next brood of bees before they mature and start to make honey.

The queen bee usually lives until five years of age and in that time mates only once but that single pairing with a male bee is enough to allow the queen to lay eggs for her entire life. However, Mr Oosting said it was best to replace the queen every two years.

“At the moment, throughout the world there is shortage of bees and bee-keepers,” Mr Oosting said.

“And that is not good. Without bees we do not have any food – it’s that simple.

“We need bees to pollinate our crops, and at present we are having to feed our bees a water-sugar syrup because of the extreme amount of rain and late flowering season we are experiencing in our own region.”

Before his retirement, and at the height of his honey-making operation, Mr Oosting had 3000 hives producing some of the best honey in the region and he exported many, many tonnes throughout the world.

Only two of his 12 students had had any previous exposure to bees and they were under his guidance for three weeks as part of the TasTafe bee-keeping course.

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