Beekeeper blitzes show
FOR Bentley’s Geoff Manning, bees are a real buzz.
“I find it an interesting industry, I’ve done lots of things but this is the one I’ve stuck with the longest – I’ve been doing it for 40 years,” he said.
With all that experience under his belt, it’s no wonder Mr Manning won awards for Best Overall Beeswax, Champion Beeswax in both the White and Yellow classes and Champion Beeswax Candles in the Sydney Royal Easter Show this year.
He also shared in the success of Best Product in the District Exhibit competition.
“I’ve lost count of the awards we’ve won. We’ve been very successful over the years,” he said.
“I haven’t showed at Sydney for a while, but we always show at Lismore.”
Apart from a love of the creatures many avoid, Mr Manning, owner of Podargus Farm Products, said working with bees required ‘patience’ and an ‘understanding of beeswax’.
“You have to be meticulous, and handle the wax very well from the beginning,” he said.
“It takes a lot of patience and trial and error. To get one good one you might have to do three or four.”
Mr Manning currently has 150 hives, and turns beeswax, a by-product of honey processing, into a range of products including candles, wax blocks, furniture polish, lip salve and hand cream.
“Creating some of the products was trial and error, which we started doing to value-add to the beeswax,” he said.
“We get quite a lot of retail after the shows, with some people coming back year after year, and we also sell them through the Beekeepers Association shop.”
But Mr Manning’s beekeeping isn’t all about minding his own beeswax – he also does pollination work.
“That’s the most important thing about bees, and a lot of food depends on having bees in the chain,” he said.
“With almonds, for example, there is no crop without bees, and in this area you get better blueberry and kiwi fruit crops with bees.”
Despite being in retirement, Mr Manning isn’t ready to give up the bees just yet.
“I’ll just keep beekeeping until I can’t, or something else crops up,” he said.