The summer sun is already warm as Tim Malfroy wanders down the hillside.
The wooden hives sit in neat rows, looking down into the sunlit valley through the clumps of gum trees, and a glorious sweet smell of flowering yellow box floats on the balmy air.
But there's more than just the sounds of birds and the breeze rustling the leaves - there's a buzzing. And that's a sound Tim has heard ever since he was born. And he loves it more and more every day.
Tim's father is a professional commercial beekeeper, so Tim was literally born around bees. But it's a passion that stung him right from the beginning, and now he and his wife Emma are producing magnificent Malfroy's Gold honey, and the best part is the bees are loving it just as much as they are.
Tim's father had 800 hives in the foothills of the Blue Mountains when he was born, so spending time with bees was just part of childhood.
"I learned to appreciate the bees in the natural world," he said.
And it was this lesson that sparked the interest for Tim. But the sound of bees buzzing wasn't the only music to Tim's ears. While working part-time in his father's operation, Tim was studying music in Western Sydney. Here, while playing guitar, he met Emma, a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist.
But the bees were always there. "There was performing and teaching music and the bees. They've always been the two things I'm passionate about," he said.
Tim was 23 years old when they launched the Malfroy's Gold label. "We just wanted to supply the community with the quality of honey we were enjoying at home."
And Tim and Emma's attitude to their beekeeping is what makes it all the sweeter. "Everything we do is about the bees," he said. "Honey is just an outcome of what we do."
And what an outcome - Malfroy's Gold produces a range of magnificent honey sources from their hives based in three locations - the lower Blue mountains, the upper Blue Mountains and the Central Tablelands.
The best part is the hives are never moved. Instead of being migratory, the bees get to live and produce honey naturally. Even though this reduces the yield, because the bees only make honey in the flowering season where they live and are not fed artificially, Tim and Emma would prefer the bees are happy.
"It is about understanding the biology of a bee colony as a wild animal, not a farm animal or pet," Tim said. "The interest for me has always been working in these beautiful landscapes with healthy, vibrant bees."
- Visit malfroysgold.com.au
Oh honey, life's sweet for Malfroy's wild bees
For Tim and Emma Malfroy, letting the bees just be bees is the most important thing.
The Malfroys are dedicated to making sure the bees live as naturally as possible, and this starts with their homes.
They build their hives from fallen trees, which are milled to mimic a tree hollow, the bees' natural home.
The bees then build their natural comb.
"The plan was to be as natural as possible," he said.
"It means when the favourable conditions arrive, they can thrive. It puts the decision making in the hands of the bees.
"They have survived millions of years without beekeepers.
"We never force the bees to make honey - we only take genuine surplus honey.
"For the rest of the year, the bees eat everything they produce."
The beauty of having their bees in the upper and lower Blue Mountains, as well as the Central Tablelands, is simply the diversity of environments where the bees thrive.
"There are dramatic changes in climate, as well as the type of flora," Tim said.
"The Blue Mountains is one of the great wildflower regions of the world.
"There are 1500 species in the mountains, so each day, each week, there is a different flavour.
"The Central Tablelands produces some of the best honey in Australia and the world. We have two main types of trees it comes from - the yellow box and the red stringybark."
Their style of beekeeping also honours the terroir, which is the 'footprint' the environment leaves on products like honey, because it is made entirely by the bees.
Chefs are buzzing for rare delight
Understanding trees, flowers and climate is all part of creating divine honey.
But luckily Tim and Emma Malfroy have it in spades. The owners of Malfroy's Gold have a range of wonderful products, including beeswax, wild honeycomb and wild honey, which they bottle and package themselves.
There are amazing flavours in every jar. "The yellow box is a majestic tree which flowers every two to four years. It produces a thick, aromatic honey at the height of summer," Tim said.
The red stringybark is a rare find. "It only flowers once every 10 years, and produces this bold-flavoured, rich caramelly honey with spicy, resinous notes. People have cried with joy when they taste it."
Malfroys also have a famous honey, Blue Mountain Post Brood Polyflora, which is aged in the hive for up to five years. And chefs simply can't get enough of their honey. It is supplied to prestigious Sydney restaurants, as well as stockists in Sydney and the Blue Mountains. Malfroy's Gold products can also be bought online.