Kate: Hi Anna, thanks for chatting about bees!! So what inspired you to create your hobby farm, Brambley Hill?
Anna: Hi Kate, I have always loved the idea of growing my own food. I grew up amongst a beautiful and productive garden my mother nurtured for her children to roam around in. I remember half biting off the strawberries while still on the plant, confusing my parents as to what creature was eating their precious strawberries.
wherever I have lived, I have planted a productive garden, even while renting. Five years ago I was exploding with permaculture designs but didn’t have the space to implement them, so we found a beautiful property 15 mins out of town and went to town with garden design.
Being around plants and animals gives me energy, I don’t totally understand it, but my farm is certainly a strong pull in my life, consuming my thoughts and time.
Kate: What kinds of farming do you experiment with?
Anna: Within the first month of owning a rocky hill full of blackberry, we got some goats! it was perfect for goats, though the goats preferred to jump the fence and eat my roses and camellias. Then I “needed” a dairy cow, one of the most productive animals and the heartbeat of the little farm, producing milk, manure and the occasional calf. Our neighbour gave us a crazy sheep. We have guinea fowl, ducks, turkeys, quail and chooks. This year we tried pigs, our mini pig gave birth to 13 very cute piglets, which has been very educational for us, and we love bees!
My rhubarb crop is getting larger every year and the garlic is looking good.
Kate: Do you have a favourite on Brambley Hill?
Anna: I think the dairy cow, Daisy, and the piglets…and the bees, and I do love that noisy turkey! Oh, and I do love finding hidden quail eggs amongst the hay bedding, it’s like Easter every day.
Kate: What inspired you to keep bees?
Anna: Bees have always intrigued me. When we bought the hill there was a colony of bees high up in a stringy bark tree in our front yard, often I would take the binoculars out and try to get a glimpse into the hive. One day, without any warning, the tree fell over! after a couple of weeks and a lot of attempts we finally got this precious hive of bees safely into a box, where it lives happily today and where I get to look in and see them close up and wonder at their mysterious ways.
Our family motto “is How hard can it be”, we always seem to “give it a go” when we are interested in something. I do have a mentor though who has taught me everything I know to keep bees well.
Kate: Have you seen any benefits to having bees on Brambley Hill?
Kate: Stone fruit grow well in our region, but if there are no bees around there are no tasty nectarines.
I feel very happy around the bees and my children get to know and experience these creatures.
when managing the bees I feel the sense that they hold the life of humanity in there buzz (well in their pollination of our food) These ancient flying insects have been pollinating our food and giving us honey in the same way for thousands of years, I have a lot of gratitude for them.
Kate: What other uses do you have for your honey?
Anna: We love to eat our very raw and unheated honey straight from the honey pot onto some freshly cooked sourdough bread…mmm
I have also enjoyed making the ancient Viking honeymoon drink of Mead. I didn’t know what Mead was until someone mentioned I could make mead with my honey, such a romantic notion. Honey wine, a great place to start brewing because it is so simple and delicious.
I also use the wax to make lip gloss and to seal the screw top Mead bottles.
Honey and especially raw honey is very anti-Microbial and great for cuts, burns and healing in our body. Honey is good for gut health. Honey has even proved effective against Staph!
Honey is our medicine for the common cold and really any sickness complaint from a child results in them eating a spoon of honey…
Kate: What is it that you like so much about bees of Brambley Hill?
Anna: I love their listening to their Buzz (which is their wings beating 11,400 times per minute!)
I love that we don’t understand how they communicate yet, they are so mysterious …
I love that the female bees to all the work, they don’t seem to mind, they just get stuck in and do what has to be done.
I love that they can fly up to 5kms to get some nectar and pollen and not get lost on the way home!!
I love sitting at the hives entrance and watching them bump home with legs full of pollen.
I love their Honey, we don’t waste any honey because 1 bee will only make 1/12 of a teaspoon in its lifetime. I can’t bare to waste a bees life’s work.
Kate: How much honey are you able to produce?
Anna: I have two bee hives on Brambley Hill, and I only harvested 1 box from both hives, (16 frames total) so the bees had lots of honey for winter. I could harvest more but feel bad taking their honey. I think I got 30kg last yr.
The harvest of honey depends on the “honey flow” the “honey flow” depends on the rain, especially if your hives main food source is eucalyptus, which mine is, along with the garden plants.
How much honey bees produce depends on what food is available to them.
Though I love honey and wax and mead, I love the bees more and I want to keep them safe and healthy, the bees come first before my belly.
Kate: Well Anna, thanks for sharing your love for farming with us. This month you are helping us celebrate “Sweet September” at the City Centre Motor Inn and offering guests the opportunity the sample honeycomb straight from your property! What inspired you to do that?
Anna: Thanks Kate, I really wanted to share my love of honeycomb with other people. Not everyone gets the chance to experience fresh honeycomb and I thought visitors to our region would really appreciate the addition to their breakfasts!! I hope they enjoy 🙂