Getting started in Honey Bees

We were interested in keeping bees, so I decided to do a little research. We attended an “Introduction to Natural Beekeeping” course by Tim Auld from All You Can Eat Gardens. It was great to see a top bar bee hive in action.

Natural beekeeping is based on the principles:

  1. Interference in the natural lives of the bees is kept to a minimum
  2. Nothing is put into the hive that is known to be, or likely to be harmful either to the bees, to us or to the wider environment and nothing is taken out that the bees cannot afford to lose.
  3. The bees know what they are doing: our job  is to listen to them and provide the optimum conditions for their well-being.

He recommends the following books:

You will need the following equipment:

  • Hive
  • Smoker
  • Hive tool
  • Protective clothing
  • Extractors – expensive, but can be hired when you need the honey

Tim Auld sells top bar bee hives.

You can buy these altogether as a package to save some money. Suggested suppliers include:

In Queensland, you need to register your hive with the Department of Primary Industries. You are  only allowed 2 hives per 1000m2.

Books and resources

Getting started in chickens

australorp

I’ve been doing some research on keeping chickens in our backyard. We are allowed six fowls according to the Brisbane City Council:

Household premises with a total area of more than 800 square metres can keep up to 20 fowl, including ducks, geese and peacocks without a permit.

If your residential premises has a total area less than 800 square metres you can keep up to six fowl.

Poultry sheds must be set back at least one metre from a dividing fence.

I’m pretty sure we will just keep chickens as Matt says ducks and geese are really messy. I was expecting to see something in the law about not allowing roosters.

I’m tossing up between Australorps which Jackie French raves about – they are good layers and make good eating. They are docile, great mothers and are good if you have children. Better yet, they are an Australian breed so they are adjusted to our climate. Silkies will leave your vegetable beds alone and make excellent pets for kids. They are placid and tolerate being handled. We eventually decided on three Australorps, so that we’ll have enough eggs for ourselves and some extra to sell or give away.

You’ll need:

  • chook house, which includes weatherproof shelter and a perch
  • nest and laying box
  • dummy egg
  • organic feed, eg from Country Heritage Feeds
  • water
  • shell grit and dirt

Jackie French suggests growing the following plants for chooks:

  • Amaranth
  • Avocado trees
  • Carob
  • Chilacayote melons
  • Fruit trees
  • Grains and maize
  • Nuts
  • Potatoes (cooked)
  • Quinoa
  • Sunflowers
  • Tree lucerne
  • as well as sweet potato, pumpkin, arrowroot, chestnuts, honey locust, taro, yams, kumara, jerusalem artichoke, and chokos.

Others have suggested comfrey and herbs to repel lice and intestinal worms, including feverfew, tansy, rue and wormwood. It’s ideal to plant these around the chook house.

Chickens

Chicken coops

Chicken accessories

Books

  • Backyard Poultry Naturally – Alanna Moore
  • Chook Book – Jackie French (excellent)
  • Healthy Free Range hens – Neil Christensen
  • How to Care for Your Poultry – New Zealand Lifestyle Block
  • Keeping Chickens – An Australian Guide

Resources

Battery Hen Adoption Project

The Battery Hen Adoption Project was started to give battery hens a second chance at life. We look for long term loving homes where the hens can live a happy life after being in a battery cage. They very quickly adjust to life outside a cage and start acting like ‘normal’ chickens within a day.

The hens will continue to lay for many years which in turn provides the adoptive family healthier free range eggs that have been produced without causing suffering to others. If you feed your hens kitchen scraps you are also reducing landfill. Matured chicken manure is a great fertilizer for the garden.  Chickens make wonderful companion animals, as they are very social and intelligent creatures.

The hens are bought from a battery farm just prior to when they would have been slaughtered. The hens are around eighteen months old. We buy as many hens as we have homes for. We ask for a donation which goes towards the cost of purchasing the hens from the farm, transport cost, vet bills, feed and bedding as well as ongoing admin costs such as telephone and printing.

Homes for Hens is based in Brisbane, Queensland and can sometimes help with transport to other areas, including the country.

If you are interested in adopting a chicken, email homesforhens@hotmail.com. You will be added to the list of adopters and be contacted in a few weeks before we confirm you are still able to take hens.

Getting started in Australian native stingless bees

Advantages of Australian Native Stingless Bees

The advantages of native stingless bees are that they do not sting and as a result, you need less equipment. The stingless bees help to pollinate the flowers in your garden, which is essential for many fruits and vegetables.

Native bees produce amazing tasting honey but only a small amount (less than 1 kg per hive per year). It’s considered a luxury.

There is no legal requirement to register hives of native bees in Australia.

Aussie native stingless bees are available around Brisbane from the following places:

Trigona carbonaria
(Common in southern Queensland and NSW)

Vince Ashe – Crows Nest (in logs)
Phone: 07 4698 1701

Peter Davenport – Elanora (in boxes)
Phone: 07 5533 9383

Tony Goodrich – Brisbane  (in boxes)
Also supplies OATH hive boxes
Phone: 07 3878 2322
Mobile: 0449 746 970

Kin Kin Native Bees  – Chris Fuller
Boxes with mainly Trigona carbonaria for $350 pick up.
Phone: 07 5485 4454
Email: info@nativebees.com.au
Website: www.nativebees.com.au

My City Garden – The Gap
A 3 tiered hive, tin lid, 2 x honey collection pots, 2 x straps, 2 x black stoppers and approx 5000 funky little bees for $425.
Phone: 0435 226 912
Email: info@mycitygarden.com.au
Website: http://mycitygarden.com.au/category/stingless-bee-hives/

Sugarbag – Tim Heard – Brisbane
Hives in boxes for $400, with $100 delivery.
Phone: 07 3844 4914
Email: tim@sugarbag.net
Website: http://www.sugarbag.net

Don Riding – Clear Mountain (in boxes)
Phone: 07 3298 5253
Email: d.riding@bigpond.net.au
Customer to pick up hives

John Waters, Bardon (in boxes)
Phone: 07 3870 8664
Email: yodaregen@fastmail.fm

Col Webb – Brassall (in logs & boxes)
Phone: 07 3201 7083
Email: coje1122@bigpond.net.au

Russell and Janine Zabel –  Hatton Vale (in boxes)
Phone: 0404 892 139
Email: bees@zabel.com.au
Website: http://www.zabel.com.au

Recommended Native Bee Books

Further Information

  • ANBees – an active forum for discussions on all sorts of Australian native bee topics
  • Aussie Bee – Australian Native Bee Research Centre
  • Bob the Beeman – rescues and relocates colonies of Native Stingless Bees