Each year the NSW Apiarists Association has a stand at Sydney's Royal Easter Show. It is the single biggest fund raising initiative annually and the funds raised keep the association going. Staffed entirely by volunteers, most of whom are beekeepers with a wealth of knowledge and experience, it is a great educational initiative. [There are also a few of us with very little beekeeping experience but a bucket load of passion for bees!]
The goal of Honeyland is to educate people about bees and honey. It sits alongside the entries for the National Honey Show showcasing honey, beeswax, beeswax candles, bee pollen, frames of honeycomb, mead and all manner of other bee-created goodness.
Whilst we all like to eat fruit and veggies, and most of us like to eat honey, our bee sisters have suffered for many years with a bad reputation. Like most people, insects and animals, honeybees have a mechanism for communicating their displeasure if they feel like they are under attack... they sting. Much like you or I may shout or lash out if someone trod on us, a honeybee will sting when they feel threatened. Thankfully European honeybees don't generally attack if they're not provoked and most people aren't even aware of their work in our gardens and parks every day. They are absolutely necessary if we want to live in a green city. Recognising this, a few years ago the NSWAA established a "Bee-Zeebo" to do live bee demonstrations to educate people about bees and honey.
One of the primary educators is Bees In The City's very own bee whisperer, Bruce White OAM. Like watching or listening to anyone who is extremely skilled in their chosen profession, watching and listening to Bruce is mesmerising... particularly if you're interested in bees!
This year, for the first time, a beekeeper, Craig Klingner, demonstrated a bee beard. To make a bee beard, the queen bee is put in a 'queen cage' (with a few attendants) and hung around the beekeepers neck. Her progeny (worker bees) are then let out of the hive where they will climb up the beekeepers and gather around their queen. With over 10,000 worker bees clustered around his neck and face it was a great demonstration of the safety of working with bees (if you know what you're doing) and their in built mechanism to gather around their queen (much like you see when there is a swarm).
Oh, and did I mention that our 45cm dipper beeswax taper candles won first prize?! Happy days. We don't have them available online because we can't find a box suitable to ship them in (any box that long is as wide and high and thus we get killed on postage), but they are available at the hive and some of our lovely retailers.
Next time you're at the Easter Show, remember to pop into Honeyland to taste the honey's for sale and support the NSW Apiarists Association and the beekeepers that keep us nourished (and naturally sweetened)!