His Excellency, George Kanyamula Zulu, High Commissioner of the Republic of Zambia, visited Wins Creek Meadery in Murrumbateman on Saturday to officially launch an unusual new attraction.
A cathedral beehive, located inside a dining room in the meadery, has been custom made by Gerry Olah, a Canberran.
Inside the hive, the bees build their own wax comb, which they then fill with honey. It’s a gentle form of beekeeping Mr Zulu believes Zambian beekeepers can learn from.
“Bees are important to Africa as they are important to Australia,” Mr Zulu said.
Bee products are an important export opportunity for Zambia. Industrial use of insecticides and removal of trees that form good natural habitats for bees is threatening the industry.
Mr Zula believes beekeepers need to learn new methods strengthen the industry in his home nation.
“We are exporting honey to Europe; however, the industry is not rich enough,” he said.
Mr Zulu called for Australian beekeepers to assist Zambian counterparts with knowledge and expertise regarding the storage and protection of bees: “Then we will have an industry that we can leave and protect for our children.”
Owner of Wins Creek Meadery, Michael Devey, said one of the purposes of the cathedral hive inside the meadery was for education, because the launch of the hive was tied in with the beginning of National Science Week.
As part of National Science Week, the meadery is running short presentations, called ‘The Natural Hive’.
“It’s for anyone interested in beekeeping to learn about bees, their biology and how they make their combs,” Mr Devey said. “We can look in the hive and see what the bees have done.
“There’s a simple beauty in the honeycomb and the hive structure. No one told the bees how to do that. It just developed over 150 million years, and it’s programmed into their genes.
“They know how to make those hexagons and how to strengthen the honeycomb. They know all that engineering without ever being taught.”
The cathedral hive is made up of 40 assembled components and nearly 200 individual pieces of wood. Some components took up to nine processes to create.
Mr Olah said the hive took just under 50 hours to construct, even with all of the resources available in one of the best-equipped timber workshops in Bungendore.
“The hive is made out of Western Red Cedar. This is a very durable wood with very good thermal properties perfect for beehives,” Mr Olah said.