Buzzing in the Hunter Valley

Worker bee from Silicon Valley buzzing in the Hunter Valley

Smart Farmer How To
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To make one kilogram of honey, female worker honey bees may visit around 1 million flowers, collectively flying around 144 000 kilometres. They fly in search of flowers, like I flew from Silicon Valley where I grew up to Australia in 2013 in search of beekeeping work.

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PASSIONATE: Since growing up in California, Elizabeth Frost has developed a real passion for bees. Photo: Stanislav Nenov.

PASSIONATE: Since growing up in California, Elizabeth Frost has developed a real passion for bees. Photo: Stanislav Nenov.

To make one kilogram of honey, female worker honey bees may visit around 1 million flowers, collectively flying around 144 000 kilometres.

They fly in search of flowers, like I flew from Silicon Valley where I grew up to Australia in 2013 in search of beekeeping work.

After studying medical and forensic entomology (think insects, diseases and death) at university and working in several insect labs, I started volunteering at the Bee Lab at the University of California, Davis.

After getting stung for the first time and learning the vital role bees play to agriculture through pollination, that I found my target organism - invertebrate livestock.

I honed my beekeeping skills working as field and lab manager at the UC Davis Harry Laidlaw Honey Bee Research Facility, as a technician sampling commercial beekeepers' hives in California, North Dakota and Minnesota for pests, diseases and pesticides with the Bee Informed Partnership, and as sole proprietor of E. Frost Apicultural Services, contracting honey bee artificial insemination services for US queen breeders producing over 60 per cent of North America's queen bees.

In between research work and queen bee insemination contracting I worked for US and Australian queen breeders, catching queens for a 'queen season' in QLD, extracting honey in Central West NSW and inseminating queen bees in WA.

I'm now working in my dream job as the Technical Specialist - Bees with the NSW DPI, based at Tocal Agricultural College in the Hunter Valley.

I'm privileged to do what I love:

  • research topics of concern to the beekeeping industry;
  • assist industry in times of hardship, such as last year's 7-month long bushfire season which affected much of NSW's honey production resources; and
  • teach beekeepers about pollination, queen breeding and insemination through Tocal Agricultural College.

My research focus is in queen breeding and genetics and I'm co-leading Plan Bee, Australia's National Honey Bee Genetic Improvement Program funded by the Rural Research and Development for Profit Program and managed by AgriFutures Australia.

I'm honoured to take over the mantle of the Smart Farmer bee column from gentleman and beekeeping friend Jim Wright.

I hope to do it justice, bringing you further into the world of beekeeping.

  • Catch up with Elizabeth on Twitter: @beeLizFrost or Facebook: @ProfessionalBeekeepers an AgriFutures Australia and NSW DPI extension platform.
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