Hayley and Roger Mason have been dubbed ‘The Backyard Beekeepers’ since launching their new business venture, Settler Hives. What started as a dream of one day working together on a feel-good product, turned into the reality of multiplying food source through keeping bees and selling seeds.
Okay, you’re probably wondering what seeds and bees have to do with each other right? Well, Settler Hives is, for now, a selection of high-quality seeds chosen specifically for the likes of bees. But it’s not just about the bees you see, us humans love to eat so why not plant something that feeds both? From native flowers to herbs and garden greens, the Masons have created a circular economy through the humbling act of pollination, and in turn, multiplies food source. Turns out the one insect we’re all afraid of getting stung by, is much more valuable than we thought!
We asked the pair why they think bee’s play such an important role within our environment and found out some pretty interesting facts! Globally, there are more honey bees than any other type of bee/pollinating insect, making them the world's most important pollinator of food crops. And it doesn’t just stop there, European Honey Bees and Australia Native Bees (over 2000 types) all work together to pollinate native trees, shrubs, and flowers. It’s estimated that 1/3 of the food we consume each day relies mainly on the pollination by bees but also birds and bats too. This same principle applies to our native flora as well.
But, the story of Settler Hives couldn’t be told without first getting to know the Masons. Hayley and Roger first met in their hometown of Toowoomba at a local youth group when Roger was 11 and Hayley 12. As Rogers first crush, it’s only fitting that they began doing everything together from high school to family holidays, university and apprenticeships, the pair were inseparable. By age 21 they were married and set off to see the world together. When they returned home (for a short while) they jumped right into purchasing their first home which became their very first investment property and decided to head off again, this time, to Canada. Whilst living on a blueberry farm just an hour west of Vancouver, the two restored and renovated a 3 story barn on a relatives property to live in but quickly fell in love with the humbling act of beekeeping. And what started as an Instagram page intended for family and friends to follow their beehive activities turned into the budding idea of Settler Hives. Between their new hobby, an already established list of adventure hobbies and work, Hayley fell pregnant and soon gave birth to their first child, Scarlett.
After nearly 3 years in Canada, Hayley and Roger finally felt settled into way of life over there and were ready to continue the journey as a tribe of 3 until they got the devastating news of an unsuccessful visa application! And so there was no other choice than to return home to Toowoomba. So when did they decide to become beekeepers? Well, naturally, life lead them down parent lane and they came to terms with knowing their usual, adventurous hobbies were going to change, drastically. Hayley distinctively remembers the exact afternoon when they where brainstorming ideas on new hobbies to do together outside, when that lightbulb moment happened.. “what about keeping a beehive?!” and so, that’s exactly what they did!
It wasn’t until later down the track when a pivotal moment happened during one of their usual 10+ hour drives together. The combination of beekeeping and their dream of creating a feel-good-product finally clicked “I remember blurting out... seeds!! For the bees! I could see the packets in my head straight away... edible flowers, wildflowers, natives, flower nectar. The rest is history” - Hayley. It’s now been only 6 short months since officially launching Settler Hives and they are proud to say, business is thriving! With plenty of keen stockists adding to the plethora of their already established customer base, they are so stoked to be a part of something that encourages people to get outside and start planting. But it’s not just about the reward of doing what they love, it’s about that feeling when someone places an order they know that particular order has a feel good, do good action behind it and for them, that’s the real reward.
So what does a day in the life of the Masons look like? It starts with Roger heading off to work (his other job) whilst Hayley begins the day slowly, with cub Scarlett at her ankles and a cup of tea on the back deck before plunging into a full day of Settler Hives work. Their constant aim to stay ahead of growth means that there is a lot of time and effort spent on working with suppliers, finding new systems and releases like packaging and seed lines. When Roger returns home from work and they can finally put Scarlett to bed, the two get busy packing seeds in the living room or kitchen bench. And when they’re not busy sorting out logistics, working full time and being parents, they’re working on rad little projects like the ‘honey tap’. Now, this isn’t just your average honey stall, instead, a literal honey tap located at the back fence of their Toowoomba home, supplying fresh local honey from their backyard bees. And if that isn’t epic enough, they’ll have honey growlers available for purchase to encourage a ‘refill & reuse’ community. This project is more than just supplying the people of Toowoomba with delicious honey, it’s a move towards a more circular economy within a community that supports their local and encourages a more sustainable way of life. Everything we support and love!
Settler Hives is the byproduct of a dream, turned Instagram page, turned lightbulb moment of two people who believe in something bigger than just the instant gratification of a feel-good business. The two firmly believe in the importance of having your own personal food story that can supply and nourish both humans and the natural world. By providing the public with simple, interactive resources, Settler Hives are creating opportunities for anyone to begin their own personal food story, bringing food to their own family tables whilst doing good for bee kind!
Head to their website to start planting seeds and helping bees!
Photo Credits: @_housefrau & @thefieldguidetoowoomba