At just 19 years old, Rohan Ford already has 131 beehives under his belt, with a vision to double his stock — however daunting that process may be.
His passion for bees and beekeeping began at a young age, when he developed an interest in the hive in a sugar gum tree in a back paddock.
After getting his first swarm at the age of 13, a childhood hobby soon turned into serious expeditions, as Mr Ford scrounged through land and forests for more colonies.
Although the work is now second nature to Mr Ford, originally it wasn’t so easy.
‘‘I used to be scared of them — it does take a while to get over that fear of them, to the point where you’re just comfortable.
‘‘It takes a while to read their patterns and you’ve got to be able to know what they’re doing or how they’ll react.
‘‘The hardest thing with bees is learning how to handle them, so it’s about opening the hive, observing what they are doing, and understanding that.’’
After spending the better part of six years working with bees, Mr Ford said he could now understand their behaviour, knew how to react in questionable situations, and brush off a sting the same way he would an itch.
‘‘If you’re not used to it, it does make your skin crawl,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s also about knowing how to handle them, so if you’re panicking or stressed, they can smell that, and then they’re more likely to sting.
‘‘If you stay calm, then generally bees will be a lot quieter around you.’’