Thursday, February 23, 2023
Mackay and Whitsunday Life
The lovingly curated garden of retired local PJ Tell is a hive of activity with chickens strutting in the pens, a veggie patch boasting passion fruit and turmeric, and at its heart, a thriving bee house where gallons of delicious honey is produced each year.
Originally from Switzerland, PJ grew up on a farm and first started beekeeping at 16 years old. Once he left home a few years later, however, he did not pursue the hobby again until almost six years ago when he was looking for “something to do” in retirement.
It was just after Cyclone Debbie in 2017 when he decided to construct a bee house and trial some innovative processes which have since generated a successful and lucrative side hustle.
Bringing the bee house up off the ground prevents dampness and instead of individual houses, PJ has encased them within one wooden shed where seven bee houses reside.
Traditionally there are three levels to each bee house – the bottom where the queen bee lives and lays eggs, the second floor where brood, propolis (a resin-like material made by bees) and wax reside, then a third floor full of honey.
Due to the hive’s popularity, however, PJ has had to install a fourth level which holds additional honey.
Every two months he checks the hive and, if the honey is capped with wax, he removes the frames, cracks open the amber nectar with a spiked roller and places it in a centrifugal machine which extracts the honey.
PJ can expect to retrieve between 12 and 20 kilograms of honey per hive every two months, up to 80 kilograms per hive each year – that’s 560 kilograms in total every year!
Known as the local ‘Bee Rescuer’, PJ’s services are often sought to extract bees from houses, and his special vacuum removes them safely every time.
He then implants the bees into his second beekeeping project - his bee trailer - which contains 16 beehives.
He hopes to soon sell the trailer to an orchard that will find it a useful mobile pollination device.
PJ’s Honey is unique to Woodwark and has a rich flavour due to the wide range of seasonal native flowers in the region.
Try some for yourself by calling PJ on 0400 661 143.