Williams River Honey

FOR THE LOVE OF BEES: Beekeeper Sam Giggins with one of his hives in his backyard. Pictures: Belinda-Jane Davis
FOR THE LOVE OF BEES: Beekeeper Sam Giggins with one of his hives in his backyard. Pictures: Belinda-Jane Davis

When Sam Giggins was introduced to bees as a child something clicked.

BEES: A close up of Mr Giggins' bees. The larger ones are called drones.

BEES: A close up of Mr Giggins' bees. The larger ones are called drones.

Now he runs a commercial beekeeping business called Williams River Honey and is doing his bit to help the region’s bee population thrive. 

But now he needs your help.

HAPPY: The bees are busy working and aren't worried about being disturbed.

HAPPY: The bees are busy working and aren't worried about being disturbed.

He said households across the region pull out the weed killers at this time of year and its a toxic mistake for the precious flying insects. 

“The chemicals in products like round up and weed killer sprays are a huge problem for bees,” Mr Giggins said.

“The chemicals actually impair the honey bees navigation – and it can kill them as well.

“It interferes with their navigation for their flights and it also means they can’t find their way back to the hive.

“It’s a massive threat in Australia, and particularly in suburbia.”

Mr Giggins said the number of amateur beekeepers in the region continued to soar, especially in urban areas, and weed killers posed a threat to their success.

He urged households to choose natural weed killers and keep their yards bee friendly.

Mr Giggins was one of more than 500 people who went to the Hunter Valley Amateur Beekeepers Association’s Tocal Beekeepers' Field Day last weekend.

The association member said bees had copped a lot of fear-based criticism in the past and it wasn’t warranted. 

“They are gentle creatures – they only get aggressive if they feel threatened by you,” Mr Giggins said. 

“We’ve got hives in our backyard and we’ve got a two-year-old and she’s always walking past them, but they don’t disturb her at all.

“There’s more and more people getting interested in bees – whether they are a commercial beekeeper or a backyard beekeeper with one or two hives.

“I think traditionally there’s been a big fear about having bees in suburban and residential areas.” 

The field day provided a range of information, resources and equipment aimed at commercial and amateur beekeepers, as well as those who were considering adding beekeeping to their repertoire.

Guest speakers tackled a range of popular topics from medicinal honey to pest control, biosecurity, and keeping beetle attacks at bay. 

“It covered a broad spectrum, it was a really good day,” he said.

“There was some trade show stalls and people selling bee-related products as well.”

Anyone interested in learning more about bees should contact the Hunter Valley Amateur Beekeepers Association. It meets on the fourth Sunday of the month, except in July and December, at the Botanical Gardens in Heatherbrae.