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    Greg Mathews at Grampian Olives on International Bee Day.
  • Hero image
    Greg Mathews at Grampian Olives on International Bee Day.
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    GOOD BEES–NESS: Greg Mathews tends to his beehives at Grampians Olive Co. on World Bee Day on Thursday last week. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER
  • Hero image
    Greg Mathews at Grampian Olives on International Bee Day.
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    In light of World Bee Day, Laharum apiarist Greg Mathews highlights the role of the bee in safeguarding Australia’s food and environment.

AgLife: Preserving ‘vital’ bee population

By Dylan De Jong

Grampians apiarist Greg Mathews believes World Bee Day this year was an opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of bees for food and the environment.

Mr Mathews helps run his family’s business Grampians Olive Co. at a Laharum olive plantation, south of Horsham. 

The family started the beekeeping venture about six years ago to add another aspect to its main business of growing organic olives and producing olive oil.

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Mr Mathews said bees were ‘fundamental’ in building pollination security and preserving food security on a global scale. 

His comments came after World Bee Day on May 20. 

“Bees do so much for our food chain. There are so many crops that just wouldn’t exist without them,” Mr Mathews said.

“We’ve got to do everything we can to preserve and grow the global bee population – the future of food production depends on it.” 

Mr Mathews said to give his bees the best chance to produce quality honey, the hives had access to flowering olives and wildflowers planted on his farm, adding unique flavours to the honey they produced. 

“The bees live on the olive grove. They forage on the olive trees, which helps with the pollination, and they have access to the national park and wildflowers,” he said. 

“We also grow wildflowers, which works well for the bees when the olives aren’t flowering. It also creates different flavours in the honey.”

Mr Mathews said bees had been a long-standing interest for the family. 

He said his father, who is a member of a Wimmera beekeeping group, was a beekeeper in his university days.

“My dad’s been a beekeeper for more than 50 years,” he said. 

“For me, it’s a hobby and something we enjoy doing. We’ve sold a bit of honey through our farm shop, and it’s become an important product for us.”  Mr Mathews said he particularly enjoyed watching the process of the hive in action when producing the honey. 

“It’s amazing to see thousands of these bees and they all know where their place is – it all works like clockwork – it’s just amazing that they can all be so co-ordinated,” he said. 

“It’s nature at its finest and they don’t really need human intervention, but rather, we’re just there to guide them and help them stay healthy.”

Mr Mathews said the family also had a major focus on organic practices as part of its broader farming system with olives and wildflowers. 

“I’ve tried to transfer the practices of what I would do in my home vegetable garden onto a larger scale,” he said. 

“There’s no reason why I could justify using harsher chemicals on a broader scale – I believe we should only sell produce to customers that was good enough for our family to consume. 

“It’s also about taking care of the land and trying to improve the soil rather than using spray and chemical fertiliser that conventional growers do that affects the long-term health of the soil.” 

The entire May 26, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire May 26, 2021 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!