Michael and Steffi Eppler from Bien Apiary are newer members of the Bellingen Growers Market community, having joined the market in 2018. Originally from Germany, they have lived in Australia for the past 30 years. ‘Bien’ is an old German word for the honeybee colony as a cohesive super-organism.
Bien Apiary produce super high quality honey and other bee-related value added products such as beeswax food wraps, lip balm, candles and soap.
Beginning as a semi-retirement venture from their small farm in Dorrigo, Michael and Steffi's business has grown quite quickly. Originally starting in 2012 with three ‘Warre’ bee hives (a natural, but low honey-yielding beekeeping system), they expanded to about 30 hives a few years later with the Flow© Hive concept.
Michael is passionate about his honey production and says that they achieve high quality through where the beehives are located and how they work with the bees:
"Our hives are all located around the beautiful Dorrigo area near rainforests and pristine bushland away from intensive cropping and mono-cultures. This is one of the reasons for the superior aroma and taste of our award- winning mixed-flower honeys".
They also :
- do not use any chemicals in the hives for pest and disease control
- do not use any supplementary feeding for the bees like sugar syrup and/or artificial pollen substitutes (often made from genetically modified soy meal), eliminating the risk of contaminating our beautiful honey.
- do not move their hives over large distances following nectar flows to maximise the honey yield.
"All our hives stay at their location permanently, meaning less stress for the bees but enables them to forage for different flowers ending in more complex and nutritious complete honeys compared to single-source honey" says Michael.
"And using the FLOW© system to harvest the honey again means less stress for the bees during harvest providing clearer, better tasting honey".
His video (below) is well worth watching.
We are very glad to have Michael and Steffi with us and think their story and approach reflects that of so many of our growers and producers - families wishing to achieve a sustainable livelihood, working with care and integrity.
Michael and Steffi only sell through markets and being part of the Bellingen Growers Market works well for them. Michael shares his experience:
"Apart from selling, I love the interaction and conversations with customers about bees, the state of bee-keeping and honey. The interest from locals always amazes me!"