Blackstone beekeeper Phil Geeves has been honing his craft for 40 years, and sharing his knowledge about bees at the Ipswich show for almost 20 years.
The Ipswich and West Moreton Beekeepers Association President has won numerous awards for his different types of honey over the years. But taking the top prize at the Brisbane Ekka with a jar creamed honey was his sweetest victory.
“When the guys gave me back the jar, it was down almost halfway,” Phil said.
“I asked the judges, did you have lunch on my creamed honey? They said everyone had to try it because it was so good.
“It’s a feather in your cap to win ‘Champion honey’ at the Ekka and it almost always goes to liquid honey because it looks more appealing, so this was special.”
Unlike the smooth flowing amber of his liquid honey varieties, Phil’s jars of creamed honey are creamy white, whipped into an almost solid form by mixing in regular honey with what’s known as a ‘starter’.
Over the years, Phil has developed some special tools of the trade, revving up the power of his mixer by attaching his beaters to an electric drill.
His mixing skills won’t be on display at this week’s Ipswich Show, but he promises there will plenty to enjoy, including tastings of five different types of honey, and the chance to see a hive split open, or watch a frame being uncapped to show how the honey flows out.
“We’ll have a live beehive behind some screens, and we’ll open it up and show people where the queen is, where she’s laid the eggs, where the drones are, and which is brood and which is honey,” he said.
A self-confessed ‘traditionalist’ beekeeper, Phil is excited by the growing interest in beekeeping in recent years, particularly from younger people, but he warns that it takes time and effort to maintain a healthy hive.
“You can’t expect that you can just go and turn on a tap and get a jar of honey,” he said.
“It’s so important to check on your queen and make sure there’s no disease spreading.”
Membership at the Ipswich and West Moreton Beekeepers Association has exploded in recent years to more than 300 members.
“It’s great that more people are getting involved, but there still needs to be more awareness,” Phil said.
“Some people don’t realise that with simple things like a watermelon or a pumpkin, if you don’t have the bees to pollinate them, you just won’t have any of the fruits or vegetables we take for granted.”
While working with bees brings a lot of pleasure, it also comes with its fair share of pain. Phil has been stung dozens of times over four decades.
You better beelieve it- Fun facts you didn’t know about bees 🐝🐝🐝
- It takes 12 bees a lifetime of work to make one teaspoon of honey
- Bees have five eyes (two compound and three simple eyes)
- The smallest Australian native bee – the Quasihesma bee- is less than 2mm long
- Not all bees can sting. Ten species of Australian native bees are stingless
He says the hive constantly changes with the queen bee’s temperament, which is affected by the drones she mates with or even different species of trees.
“Tea tree affects them in some way, they can go a bit crazy for a while. But the angry hives are actually the ones that produce the most honey,” he said.
“No hive is the same. They’re really unique characters in the way they operate.”
Phil Geeves will be at the Ipswich Show’s Apiculture exhibition, along with other local bee enthusiasts, from Friday 17 May – Sunday 19 May. Different types of honey, mead, and other natural bee products will be on sale throughout the weekend.
Get your tickets to the Ipswich Show here.
What’s on at the Ipswich Show
Fireworks and Laser show
Side Show Alley
Human Cannon Ball
Brophy’s Circus (3 shows each day)
Hot Wheels Stunt Team
Young Talent Competition
Young Prince and Princess Pageant (Saturday only)
Brute Utes Parade (Sunday only)
Dennis ‘Dingo’ Dryden
Community Stage entertainment (including The Outback Hypnotist)
Kids Zone Entertainment and Snake display
Stud Cattle competition
Farmyard Friends (including cow milking)
Miniature cattle and donkeys
Llama and Alpaca display
Dog agility demo (Saturday & Sunday)
Trade pavilion and Showbags (9am to 9pm Friday & Saturday; 9am – 6pm Sunday)
Dairy Goats Competition (Saturday Only)
Miniature Goats Competition (Sunday Only)
Antique engine display
Ranger Nick- Camp oven cooking demos
Exhibits: Food, crafts, birds, fine art, photography
Farm produce and horticulture exhibits