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05 February 2020
By LOTTE REITER
There’s a real buzz at Grampians Olive Co.
The Northern Grampians business, headed by Andrew and Susan Mathews and their son Greg Mathews, has had one of its best honey-harvesting years to date.
The Mathews started the beekeeping venture about five years ago to add another facet to their main business of growing organic olives and producing olive oil.
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From a single hive and 375-gram containers to a thriving 26 hives and up to 2.5-kilogram containers, the sweet product has been a hit with customers.
More recently, it has also fired up a passion in Greg Mathews’ eldest daughter, Lucy, who at five-years-old frequently dons the beekeeping suit to join her dad and grand-dad when they extract honey from a site on the property’s olive grove.
Mr Mathews, who also has daughters Amy, three, and Sophie, six months, said Lucy enjoyed being involved in the process.
“Lucy loves learning about the process and the bees, and obviously she really loves the honey too, and eats bits of the honeycomb,” he said.
“I guess growing up in a rural area the kids have some inherent understanding of the process anyway and how it gets onto the shelf, but it definitely helps.
“And because we’re all doing it together it keeps us all motivated.”
Mr Mathews said his family had been at the business for 12 years, introducing many new products such as infused oils and vinegars, and, of course, honey.
He said while honey was one of the relatively newer products to hit the shelf, bees had been a long-standing interest of the family.
He said his father, who is a member of a Wimmera beekeeping group, was a beekeeper in his university days.
“I think he had his first hive at 16 or so,” he said.
“It was his first income, helping pay for university. When I was younger, I often heard Dad talk about the bees and the process – we’d see trees and flowers and he’d say, ‘that would make a good honey’. But only when having moved up here to the Grampians did we think about getting back into it.”
Mr Mathews said the most interesting part of beekeeping and extracting honey was how the product differed slightly with each season and extraction.
“Part of the joy and excitement is looking forward to what the next batch will be like,” he said.
“Because they always are a little bit different, and that’s obviously depending on the plants and flowers in season.
“There’s a real buzz about it – mind the pun – and you’re getting this amazing sweet product out of it which is really popular with both the kids and adults.”
Mr Mathews said he recommended people with an interest in beekeeping to consider getting their own hive.
“I think if there’s an interest or passion there, it’s definitely worth it,” he said.
“I definitely recommend doing it with a mentor, though, so someone with a hive or experience, because they’re not a set and forget thing, you do have to look after the hive and maintain it regularly.”
The entire February 5, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!