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Author Topic: Hello from Adelaide, Australia / My grandfathers bees.  (Read 1293 times)

Offline Hyper.Intelligent.Fish

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Hello from Adelaide, Australia / My grandfathers bees.
« on: October 10, 2012, 01:31:57 AM »
Hi all.

Since I'm a new member and need to make a post to prove I'm not a spambot, I'll talk about my grandad and his bees.

Grandad grew up in the Adelaide hills where his family kept bees. When he married and moved down to Adelaide he kept a hive of bees under a fig tree in his backyard in the suburbs.

After my parents were married they moved to a 3/4 acre block of land on the hills face (this is back in the '70's) that backed onto a national / recreation park. Bordering our back fence and the national park was a fire track. Along this track grandad had about 15 hives that he harvested twice a year for the honey and the beeswax. Honey he used to give away, or my brother and I used to sell it to the neighbours for pocket money.

Grandad made his hives and frames himself, and you'll forgive me if I fail to use the correct terminology because pretty much everything I learnt about beekeeping I learnt from him, and he picked it up from his father, and so on. His veil was a broad brimmed hat with mosquito netting or plastic mesh draped over the top. He worked with bare hands, but wore a long sleeved shirt, trousers and shoes. When my brother and I helped out we did the same, only wearing gloves.

A new hive was two boxes high for the first year, entrance at the bottom. After the first year he added a top box from which the honey was harvested. Frames were completely empty when he installed them, no wire or plastic forms etc. The boxes were raised off the ground on cinderblocks, and they simply sat on top of each other with the bees gluing them together over time. The top box had a layer of hessian underneath a wooden board. On top of that sat a flat tin sheet held down by a big rock.

When it came time to harvest we used 3 or 4 boxes of empty frames on a sack truck. We'd haul the empty frames down to the hives, pull the full frames from the hives and swap them with the empty frames in the boxes, then hauling the boxes with full frames back up to the back shed where the hand cranked iron extractor was located. After the frames were extracted we'd haul the boxes back down with the now empty but still waxed frames to the next hives and go on until all the hives were harvested. The left over frames had the wax cut out and stored for with the boxes for the next harvest. His uncapping knife was just a strait blade that he kept dipped in a small tin of hot water.

Honey was filtered out of the extractor first through a coarse plastic mesh and then through a stocking into either large white buckets or into whatever jars and bottles he'd collected over the winter.

Unfortunately we lost all but two hives in the Ash Wednesday bushfires, and in the years afterwards while by grandad was rebuilding my brother and his mate knocked over a hive and got a serious stinging, leaving him allergic to bees. Long story short we never fully recovered before my grandad got to old to look after the hives, and after I moved out they fell into disrepair.

When my dad sold the place in the hills I found out he'd chucked out most of grandads old beekeeping equipment, including the smoker and extractor. Either the NPSW or the new owners had the old hives removed which is a bit sad.

Anyway, I'm looking at getting back into the hobby, but I'm a little overwhelmed by the scope of beekeeping today. He never used queen excluders, or marked and clipped queens. He dealt with swarming by keeping an empty two box hive nearby from late winter. He never used a foundation or wire in his frames, boxes were painted with whatever he had on hand at the time, and I don't remember him ever medicating a hive.

How times have changed.

Anyway, nice to meet you all. I'm looking forward to being involved.

Offline bernsad

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Re: Hello from Adelaide, Australia / My grandfathers bees.
« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2012, 05:59:32 AM »
G'day mate,

Welcome to the forum. I like the family history by the way, thanks for the story.

Don't get too overwhelmed with all the modernities, with your background and a little bit of practice you'll be right. We don't tend to medicate here anywhere near as much as our overseas cousins so don't get too worried about it. There is a "Downunder" sub-forum that helps with local conditions, flows, etc..., drop on in when you get the chance.


Offline Joe D

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Re: Hello from Adelaide, Australia / My grandfathers bees.
« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2012, 02:28:05 PM »
Welcome to the forum.  I like your bit of history also.  All of the over seas cousins don't use a lot of meds either.  I also had 1/2 or more empty frames in my hives.  Good luck to you.


Offline AllenF

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Re: Hello from Adelaide, Australia / My grandfathers bees.
« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2012, 04:26:06 PM »
Welcome to the forum   

Offline tefer2

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Re: Hello from Adelaide, Australia / My grandfathers bees.
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2012, 04:56:18 PM »
Welcome to the site.