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Ann Ross

Beerburrum, SEQ
Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing

When a colony of honey bees made a home in their workshop, Ann and Jeff Ross could’ve had them poisoned. Instead, they became beekeepers, advocates and innovators on a mission to create a thriving native bee industry in Queensland.

Ann Ross, Hive Haven, Sunshine Coast.

If we could describe our business in one sentence, I’d have to say we’re beekeepers who farm both honey bees and the Australian stingless native bee.

Previous to starting up Hive Haven we had our own mechanical repair business, and we still do, we’ve been running that for about 25 years. I’d really have to say that the Ignite grant was pretty much pinnacle in our success. We received that last year in September; it enabled us to manufacture the hive, stabilise native honey, and do a small scoping project for the future of the native bee industry here in Queensland.

One of our most breakthrough moments throughout this whole journey was getting the results back from our temperature testing just recently. The hive is maintaining a cool temperature. It just made 9 versions, 4 years of work, really worthwhile.

When a colony of honey bees made their home in a wall of their mechanical workshop, Ann and Jeff were advised to poison them. Instead, they coaxed them into a box and became ‘weekend beekeepers’. They did not realise it at the time, but their new business Hive Haven had begun.

One hive of Australian native stingless bees soon grew to 8, but tragically a heatwave in 2013 wiped out the colonies. This setback put Ann and Jeff on a new path, designing a beehive that would not overheat, even during summer heatwaves. It is Hive Haven’s development of an innovative, world-leading beehive which is attracting attention.

With help from an Advance Queensland Ignite Ideas grant, Hive Haven manufactured the first round of their native V9 bee box. The innovation saw the company inundated with requests for this revolutionary way to keep bees. The Hive Haven V9 beehive is hexagonal to mimic a natural tree log. It is manufactured from recycled plastic, making it impervious to spore-based diseases, and does not require painting or maintenance. Most importantly, its design ensures it keeps a stable temperature, enabling native bees to be farmed in areas that were previously been deemed unsuitable. Innovative 3D printed honey trays means food-grade honey can be harvested with minimum disturbance to the bees.

Hive Haven now farms both European bees and Australian native stingless bees, selling honey from both varieties. Ann and Jeff believe that beekeeping is a viable local industry and aim to address scalability around agribusiness for native bee farming in Queensland. With increasing interest from customers, Hive Haven are continuously striving to improve their products, while remaining focused on delivering a solution to the global decline in the pollination of food crops.

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