Interview with Bob the Bee man
Bob the bee man or Robert Luttrel is one of Australia’s more involved stingless bee keepers. Bob is always looking for new ideas and innovations to help people have a good idea how things can be done. I decided to make the trip out to his house and talk with him about his hive design and bees.
One of the first things I wanted to capture was a video of Bob performing a propagation with one of his own hives. Have a look at the video below.
Bob’s observation hives.
Bob had a few of these interesting hives laying around and I asked him what they were. “observation hives.” They are a large flat box with a mesh floor and nice big viewing panel so people can see in. As far as I know he takes these with him to different places to show people stingless bees up close. See if you can pick which species are in each box below.
I thought these were quite cool and worth documenting as all three species of bee seemed quite happy living in them. The timber slats within the top give the structure something to hang from when the clear panel is replaced as he explained to me.
Over the years he has collected many other stingless bee keeper’s hives. You can see them dotted around his property along with a lot of other colonies.
A Tom Carter hive and an early John Klumpp
A Les Felhalber hives one horizontal and one vertical.
Along with these hives there were a few that I thought were worth a closer look. Have a look in this video.
The Aus Novy Hive
While I was there Bob wanted to show me his Aus Novy hive Jig. I was quite impressed that he has figured out a way to neatly do this. These will make a solid heavy hive suitable for schools and alike. With the option to propagate from them.
How did you become interested in Stingless bees?
I was 6 years old and I was shown a colony of stingless bees in the base of a tree, by a school mates father. I returned to this log many times and would watch the bees coming and going. When I was 10 years old a farmer who owned the property told me I could have those bees. I returned with a saw and cut the stump and put it in my cart to wheel home.
Can you think of a memory or story that stands out with your bee keeping?
When I was an early teen I went to the Queensland museum and got a photo copy of “Stingless Bees of Australia” written by Charles Mitchner. The scientific drawings led me to believe at that time that I could design a honey frame.
What type of stingless bee is your favorite and why?
Hockingsi because of the sheer honey productive potential. Once frames are fitted to hives, Hockingsi with produce 2-1 compared with Carbonaria.
What things do you like about your box design and what inspirations did you have?
It’s totally modular – any level can replaced into any position in the nest. You can open up the whole box to refurbish it and remove any unnecessary material, they are resistant to high temps and if you’re going to make a box you may as well make one that looks good. Inspiration – Tom Carteer, Paul Anderson, Peter Davenport, John Klumpp and INPA box from Brazil
Why do you believe bees are important?
You need pollinators, part of our natural ecosystems and stingless bees are our natural honey bee and we just don’t know how it fits into our natural ecosystem. No one has looked.
Finally, what is your one piece of life advice you would share with the world?
If you have an idea never give up. No matter what the odds.
If you would like to learn more go visit Bob’s web page below