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Halcyon life is 'sweet as' for Lakeside Beekeepers

November 23, 2018

Home owners Kerrin Cook and Helen Jillett are creating quite the buzz in the Halcyon Lakeside community.

Their industrious and successful beekeeping has brought homemade honey to their neighbours’ doorsteps, much to the delight of Lakeside sweet tooths.

Every few months, the community’s home owners can get their hands on the pure raw bush honey produced by the thousands of bees in Kerrin and Helen’s hives.

Lakeside’s honey ‘industry’ started earlier in the year when the couple conducted their first ‘raid’ on the hives that they set up just after moving into the community last year.

That late summer harvest yielded 75kg of sweet sticky produce with a distinctly melaleuca flavour thanks to those trees being in flower at the time.

Their most recent ‘raid’ netted about the same volume, but this time the honey had a milky appearance and sweeter taste – reflecting the clover in flower over the winter months.

At harvest time, the word – and the aroma - spreads quickly through the Lakeside community.

“When we’re extracting the honey from the frames home owners smell it and come running with their buckets wanting to get refills and asking, ‘is the shop open?’,” Kerrin laughed.

After harvesting and extraction, the honey is poured into jars, squeeze bottles and 1kg buckets for purchase by home owners at the community’s Thursday night Happy Hour.

The sales help to cover the big expense of beekeeping, with hives and honey extractors costing $1,000 each, not to mention the labour-intensive and messy work of harvesting.

“We always expect a big rush, people just love it and it sells like hot cakes,” Kerrin said.

“People who have health issues will really appreciate the health benefits from organic raw honey.”

The honey often comes back to them in the form of muesli slices and baked goods made by their customers.

Helen said the ‘buzz’ around their beekeeping made them feel closer to the community.

“Everybody wants to know where the hives are, and people come up to us and say, ‘we’ve got your bees in our garden’,” she said.

“It’s nice to have this interest, it gives us a connection to the community because everybody knows about it.

“It makes you feel part of the community when you can contribute somehow.”

Helen began beekeeping on her Northern NSW sheep and cattle farm about three years ago.

“I just started it as a hobby because I wanted to have a go at it,” she said.

“I belong to two online beekeeping groups and I just google it if I need help with something.

“There’s a lot to it but we’re just learning all these things as we go along.”

Kerrin said they appreciated the support of the Lakeside community, with caretaker Peter Jamieson keeping an eye on their hives, which are located near his home, and community manager Donna Osborne making the labels for their honey containers.