Goldfields Honey, midway between Bathurst and Orange in central west NSW, has recently joined the Pacific Labour Scheme. Beekeeping is a growing industry in the Pacific islands, so Australian apiarists can benefit from the experience Pacific island workers have in the industry.
Goldfields Honey is in the process of recruiting six employees from the highlands of Papua New Guinea (PNG)—an area known for its honey production.
Goldfields Honey managing director, Jon Lockwood, was introduced to the Pacific Labour Scheme by Southern Cross University researcher and beekeeping specialist, Cooper Schouten.
Cooper has visited PNG’s eastern highlands several times to mentor and train local beekeepers. This showed him the potential for PNG beekeepers to fill labour gaps in Australia.
“Beekeeping is such a specialised industry and there is actually a severe lack of locals who are experienced beekeepers,” Jon said.
“To pollinate and produce honey, we need disease-free, healthy beehives and to have healthy beehives, we need workers. One in every three mouthfuls of food we eat is because of a bee!”
Jon said the PNG workers’ experience will be an asset for his business, which currently runs 8,000 production hives. He also believes the workers will benefit from their time working in Australia.
“Hopefully they can take their skills home, expand on what they already know and apply some aspects of these [skills] to their own businesses,” Jon said.
A recruiter from Goldfields Honey will travel to the PNG highlands in the coming months to interview and select workers in person.