Desert Beekeeping December 09 2013, 3 Comments

I was chatting to a fellow beekeeper earlier in the month and he told me this great story:

Back in the Sixties, there were no restrictions on beehives, honey or basically any sense of bio-security. So, this old fellow was transporting a semi-trailer of beehives from the East Coast, back to Perth across the Nullarbor. More than 200 hives on the back of this truck, summer and stinking. And if you've seen a beekeepers truck, the 'modern' ones you see now are all from the 70's - old, faded, farting and rusty buckets held together with tape and cable ties. It is hard to imagine what the truck was like in the 60's!

(Photos Source: Wikipedia and Tourism Australia)

The hives had been emptied of all the honey, except what the bees needed to eat for the week's journey across the desert, because when hives are full they can weigh more than 60kg each! Honey is 1.3 times the density and weight of water. Millions of bees would have been on this truck as it set off into the horizon.

(Photo Source: http://glaciercountyhoney.wordpress.com)
Three days later, the trucks gear box blew out! In the middle of no-where, with no phones, no servo...So this beekeeper opens up the truck's engine bay, yanks out the offending gear box, and proceeds to open up all the hives on the truck. He can't leave the ladies locked inside the hives for the week it is going to take to hitch to Perth, get the repairs done and then hitch back to the truck. So, hoping they can find forage and water, he sticks his thumb out and waits for a ride!

Almost two weeks later, he finds his way back to the truck. Dusty and pretty cranky from all the messing about with truck parts, he's glad to find his truck and hives untouched. Waving the truckie who gave him a lift 'goodbye' he plods over to his truck, only to find...ALL his tires, EVERY one was flat!!

(Photo Sourced: http://blogs.sun-sentinel.com/crime-and-safety/2011/04/05/coping-with-a-tire-blowout)

Who would risk the stings from the bees to vandalize a broken down truck?! Why would someone be so petty and stupid to slash 18 tires?

At least his ladies were still buzzing around the truck. He wandered about, looking for more damage, and realized he could smell something...something familiar...honey...Scratching his head, puzzled, the beekeeper looked again at the blown out tires, looked at the hives, smelt the honey in the air and realized...

No-one had vandalized his truck. There had been a honey flow, IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DESERT, and his ladies had laid down full supers of honey! Remember how heavy honey is? Those bees had laid down so much honey, that the weight of the hives had blown the tires of the truck out!

So the beekeeper turned back to the road, and, stuck out his thumb again!

(Photo Sourced: http://inspiringtravellers.com/2010/03/22/how-to-hitchhike-around-australia/)