busy bees…in our organic gardens

Sunshine and frequent blue skies have kept us busy growing, harvesting, and progressing with new initiatives throughout the Gaia grounds. Cam, Gaia’s Boutique Organic Farmer, together with Head Chefs Dan and Mitch, have put in inspirational efforts to expand our culinary range of retreat-grown produce to share with our in-house guests and feature in Gaia’s online-store products.

From Cam, Gaia’s Boutique Organic Farmer 

One of the highlights this month has been completing our Bee Hives which are now fully operational. Preparing our site for the last year, we are very excited to now have three Langstroth and one Kenyan top bar hives in place.

Mitch and I will be working closely with these lovely ladies over the next few years.  

We have had 2 inspections so far and have been super impressed with the temperament of our Queens and their workers.  We have been working closely with Willow from Natural Beekeeping here in Byron Bay.   

He is just a fountain of knowledge, and we are learning more and
more about bees as the project develops.  Willow has a wonderfully
insightful, compassionate, and nurturing approach to bees, and is a very refreshing change to what we know about the high-paced world of intensive honey farming. Mitch and I are learning about our bees and they are coming to
know us as their beekeepers. Did you know that they have a facial recognition system and come to know us as we regularly work with them?

We have found that by handling the bees in the way that Willow has
taught us, that the general mood of the hive stays super relaxed while we are
inspecting or extracting (the lavender stems in the smoker also help to calm
and relax the bees). 

Taking extra care to move frames, lids, and boxes so as to avoid squashing any bees, keeps them happy and content and is less likely to incite guard bees to come out to defend the colony.  You can really hear the difference in the hum of the bees as to their mood.  

We are excited about the Kenyan top bar hive as well, as this is Willow’s preferred method of housing bees (they are also very beautiful!). It’s a much more natural structure with which the colony can regulate its own hive health. They can expand or reduce their comb as the seasons dictate.  

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They are free to produce drone cells for reproduction and allow the colony to reproduce, split and swarm as nature intended.  We can always catch and rehouse the swarms as they happen to, expanding our own hives.  We can’t spin the frames in a typical extractor, but we will harvest honeycomb from this hive. 

We have already started to harvest and process honeycomb and raw honey and it’s super delicious! The chefs will be using it as fast as we can produce it, and it will find its way into our delicious muesli, which we produce for sale in the shop. I think we’ll also have to glaze our Christmas hams with some too!

With food+love