The beekeeping industry is a very small industry in Australia. It is an industry that takes a life time of learning to understand properly. This is why you need to be apiarists for generations to be really successful.
Not only do you need to know how to work bees properly, but you also need a very comprehensive knowledge of the trees and ground flora of our beautiful country. Apiarists have to look at trees, and know whether they are going to bud up or grow, when and in what area, and keep a close watch on seasonal weather changes and insect plagues. So many factors govern whether you gather honey or not!
The Archibald family has been beekeeping for three generations. Life, in the early to mid 1900’s was a life, on the move. Constantly moving to chase honey flows. Beekeepers mostly extracted on the job (portable extracting plants, moved on site, where ever the bees were positioned. As one would imagine, amenities were few. Life was very hard, long days, back breaking work, all manual labour, living for extended periods away from home and family, in caravans or tents. The upside of all this, is that you are camped in beautiful, serene bush land at peace with ones self and surroundings. Also there are many good country people met through this work, people who become life long friends from many out of the way places in outback Australia.
Today, beekeeping is changing from a nomadic type existence, to where honey is gathered and the full frames are brought back to a fixed location to be extracted. Where extraction used to be hand operated, it is now done by machined cutters and spinners (extractors). But it is still a very hands on job, as every frame is individually handled and visually graded. Extracting rooms are now under health department inspections and are generally far superior to the old mobile plants.
Beekeeping still necessitates long distance travel, at unusual hours to make moving less traumatic for the bees. Travel is usually at night, trying not to overheat the hives in sunlight. No matter how we try, beekeeping is still a very hard, manual occupation .Lifting boxes by hand for inspecting and workings hives can never be completely avoided. Nowadays Apiarists usually have machinery for lifting hives onto their trucks.
Its funny but true, beekeeping becomes a way of life; it gets into your system and very rarely leaves. Once a beekeeper, always a beekeeper.