Darren and Gillian Enslin own 45 beehives at Apple Tree Creek and produce bulk quantities of pure organic honey.
Darren said he knew the saying “busy as a bee” but never fully appreciated the work ethic of one of nature’s most prolific toilers.
That was until he became an apiarist.
Darren and Gillian live in a delightful nook of Apple Tree Creek with the couple widely known for their previous involvement with the Apple Tree Creek Service Station and are legendary among target shooting circles as world champions.
How did champion shooters transition into running Apple Tree Creek Honey, a thriving home-based business?
Darren’s interest in bees traces back to his youth before the couple arrived in Australia from Zimbabwe in 2001.
“My dad was a beekeeper, but I have to tell you the difference in temperament between Africanized honeybees and European honeybees is chalk and cheese,” he said.
“African bees are simply nasty. You can be laying by the side of a swimming pool and a dozen will attack you for no apparent reason.
“European bees are much more placid and will probably only get angry if you block the entrance to their hive.”
“Twelve years ago we started here at the Creek with one hive my dad gave me when he moved to this district from North Queensland.
“We are in a very natural part of the region and very quickly the bees were producing excess which we bottled and gave to friends.
“They loved it and quickly more requests were coming in for our honey.”
Darren said the growth in his hives had evolved over 12 years with a productive hive capable of generating anywhere between 50kg and 100kg per year.
“Our honey is purely natural and has not been heat treated which means it retains all of its natural attributes and reported health benefits,” he said.
“Depending on the time of the year we can produce four distinctive tasting honeys from paperbark trees, bloodwood, ironbark and blue gums.
“The colour ranges from a paler yellow from the paperbark to almost a deep red from the bloodwood.
“People have commented that the bloodwood can have almost a strawberry-like quality to it.”
Understanding the dynamics of the hive and the role of its participants is an experience that transfixes Darren.
He never tires of learning of bee’s intelligence, their ways of communicating and their relentless work from sunrise to sunset.
As part of his hive management, Darren replaces his queen bees each 12 months even though a queen can be effective in the hive for up to five years.
The purpose is to maintain a maximum production of eggs to populate the hive and to provide scents that assist in regulating the unity of the bee colony.
“Generally I will not touch a hive from April until August as the bees need to survive the winter months,” he said.
“Now is a peak time, although the Australian bush is pretty forgiving for its ability to have flower flushes all year round.
“Last year was obviously quite dry which does impact on supply and I will use a pollen substitute to assist the production cycle.
“However, to protect the natural quality of our honey we never use sugar,” said Darren.
Where to buy Apple Tree Creek Honey
Over time he has learned lessons regarding placing hives in areas where indiscriminate spraying can destroy a bee colony.
“I have lost several hives in that manner so now I just keep them at home, and we find that we are producing satisfactorily from their foraging range from our property,” Darren said.
Apple Tree Creek Honey is available locally in Childers from IGA, Drunk Bean Coffee Shop and Mitre 10 Hardware.
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