Tom Carter- Interview
I drove up to Rockhampton to meet with Tom carter. Tom has been keeping stingless bees for over 30 years and is a pioneer in the realm of stingless bee crop pollination.
He has conducted pollination services to people with 70-100% increases in yields. Tom Carter worked on the natural eduction method around the same time as John Klumpp who wrote the first book on stingless bees.
He has sold bees up and down the coast of Australia and met with many scientists over the years to help them with their questions.
Here is a video I filmed of him talking about a few topics.
Tips from Tom carter for stingless bee keepers
- If your going to do it, put your heart to it and do it properly. Don’t break hives into lots of 3 and try and sell them. Be patient.
- With eduction it takes a long time, it’s tedious. If the hive is full and the bees are already leaving to make a new nest, that is the time to do it. In four weeks I had a hive with brood because the bees were ready.
- In pollination try to work 4-5 hives per acre, which isn’t always possible because lots of hives are hard to get. Keep bees 30 meters inside the crop. Some of mine were 150 meters inside the crop.
- I like the box I have. I have been selling this box since 1999 and I wouldn’t change it. The walls are 100mm deep, 250mm wide and 325mm long outside. The wall thickness is 21mm thick. So stick with what works for you.
- I had a guy come here from the gold coast, he wanted to swap carbonaria but he only had a little hives. I said I’ll swap two of yours to one of mine. It wasn’t till he saw mine that he understood. I have always had people come back for more so don’t make your hives too small.
- Slope your hives slightly to the drain hole so you never have water issues.
How did you become interested in stingless bees?
I got interested as a kid 80 years ago. We used to go to a farm that had them and we used to cut the trees down and eat the honey. In the 80s I put some in a box. They were hockingsi from Rockhampton. Then I went on Tv and got thousands of phone calls. Even from Mexico and Papua New Guinea.
Tom carter, can you think of a memory or story that stands out with your bee keeping?
Right after I went on Tv I started getting phone calls and people called for help to collect them. So I have many memories helping people box them. Increasing crops by 80% is also a fond story. 4 trays of lychees from one tree to 28 trays.
What type of stingless bee is your favorite and why?
Symei! Because they build with wax rather than resin so they don’t go to the cadaghi tree, therefore don’t have a problem like the Tetragonula do. The other reason is they don’t attack you when you open the hive compared with the hockingsi that bite.
What things do you like about your box design and what inspirations did you have?
It’s quite larger than other hives so I don’t see slumping because of the sheet under the top box. The 20 cent coin box from the bank happened to be the box I had on hand so inspiration came from that. I made them smaller. Terry Bradford makes my ones now in flat packs. I have sold them as far down as the blue mountains and people have split them and asked for more hives.
Why do you believe bees are important?
Well, as I mentioned, we would increase watermelon crops by by 80-100%. The farmer was very happy. She said “Previous to this we would never see a harvest over 60 tonne. Now we see over 100 tonne easy.”
Have you learned something recently about bees that you would wish to share?
Only what I am saying. I haven’t had much to do with them recently. I am making 5 hives at the moment but who knows if Ill finish them. Someone drove down from Cairns and bought my last lot.
Finally Tom Carter what is your one piece of life advice you would share with the world?
Learn to recognize the value of the bees.