Dunbogan resident Paul Smedley shares his love of bees and 'swarm mustering' in the Hastings

SWARM MUSTERER: 59-year-old bee catcher Paul Smedley. Photo: Supplied.
SWARM MUSTERER: 59-year-old bee catcher Paul Smedley. Photo: Supplied.

Swarm Musterer - the name receives a few chuckles from mates of Dunbogan resident Paul Smedley, but it's a job title he wears with pride.

Mr Smedley is only a call away when a swarm of bees start looking for a new home and decide your letterbox is suitable accommodation.

The 59-year-old bee catcher first began the 'busy bee' hobby around 10 years ago after retiring from the cattle farming industry.

"After my wife and I got out of cattle I thought I'd get a bee hive for fun. Once I had one the next thing I knew I had 10, 20, 30 and now up to 70 hives," he said.

"My wife made the logo up for 'Swarm Musterer' and it was a bit of a gimmick. It's a bit of a laugh and we love it."

Bee musterer at work
SWARM MUSTERING: A swarm of bees on a branch. Photo: Supplied.

SWARM MUSTERING: A swarm of bees on a branch. Photo: Supplied.

Mr Smedley said he would often skip school as a child by intentionally being stung by a bee and 'blowing up like a sausage'.

He's now called out to collect around 30 swarms a year from concerned home and business owners.

"Bees are not usually aggressive when they are swarming in the first few days but a hive can form in the size of a football on a branch quite quickly and people will call me out to remove them," he said.

"The bees are out searching for a new home so I get a bucket or hive under the mass of bees, give them a good shake and they all fall straight in."

SWARM MUSTERER: Bee keeper Paul Smedley with a number of hives. Photo: Supplied.

SWARM MUSTERER: Bee keeper Paul Smedley with a number of hives. Photo: Supplied.

Working with bees is relaxing and he often donates swarms of bees to other enthusiasts or children, Mr Smedley said.

"Sometimes I give swarms to people to start off their own hives. We have also donated bee suits and bee hives to children with disabilities to get everyone involved," he said.

"Once you have bees you can sit there looking at them all afternoon. You can sit, watching them because they are really cool and relaxing to watch work.

"They are very clean and I think they would have to be one of the cleanest animals there is. They also release an aroma of fresh honey and the smell of it is beautiful.

"We extract honey but I give more away than I could ever sell. It's a busy hobby but you could never feel better than eating a bit of fresh honey every day."

CAUGHT SWARMS: Bee hives. Photo: Supplied.

CAUGHT SWARMS: Bee hives. Photo: Supplied.

Bee keeping has become quite a trendy hobby over the last couple of years, according to Mr Smedley.

"There are a lot of bee keeping clubs and groups, their numbers are increasing dramatically. It seems to be the flavour of the month," he said.

"People are also becoming more interested in native bees and although they don't produce as much honey, they don't sting.

"I still do get stung a lot but it just comes with the business. Some hives are crankier than others, there are some that attack as soon as the suit comes out but other hives you can open the lids in shorts, thongs and a t-shirt."