Making a living off the land
Opening up the land
Whitewells Station plan
Eucalyptus oil
Shepherds to sheep stations
Fencing the hay paddock
Making hay


Click here for pioneer beekeepers: The Fewsters | John Carpenter |


The Mongers Lake to Lake Moore region contains the last large stands of the York gum Eucalyptus loxophleba in Western Australia. The York gum was once widespread on red brown loamy soils throughout the western and northern Wheatbelt, but was cleared for broadacre wheat cropping. York gums flower profusely about every fourth to seventh year, attracting several beekeepers who truck their hives into the area while the copious supply of honey is available, starting about May to June at Ninghan, peaking about August to October.


Western Australian commercial beekeepers, who produce some 3,200 tons of honey from about 40,000 hives, are ‘migratory’. They follow ‘the honey flow’ around the State as plants flower in different areas. Two of the earliest beekeepers to use the York gum at Whitewells and Mt Gibson were Max Fewster and John Carpenter. They used different strategies to make best use of the erratic but rich nectar flow but poor pollen supply afforded by the York gum.


North European honey bees were introduced into Western Australia in the 1840s but hives were lost to wax moth in the 1880s. The Italian Honey Bee Apis mellifera ligustica was then imported and strict quarantine has kept hives clear of most pests and diseases.

The earliest apiary permit for a site in the area, AS 2040, was issued to Max Fewster in 1967 near the southern boundary of Whitewells Station just off the Great Northern Highway. Five other sites on Whitewells were permitted in 1989 and 1990, at Breakaway Well, Brown Well, Smith Well, and about half way between Smith Well and the homestead. All the sites on Whitewells were cancelled in 1999 after objections from the owner. There have therefore been no active apiary sites on Charles Darwin Reserve since it was purchased by Bush Heritage in 2003. 

In the Lake Moore to Mongers Lake area in 2006, there were 121 apiary sites: 54 on Ninghan Station, 51 on Mt Gibson Station (Australian Wildlife Conservancy’s  Mt Gibson Sanctuary), 6 on Wanarra Station, 9 on the unallocated Crown land south of Charles Darwin Reserve, and one on Crown freehold land on the old Dalgary Road . 

Note: The Beekeeping industry is regulated under the Beekeepers Act 1963. Beekeepers’ access to State forests, reserves and other Crown land including pastoral leases is controlled under the Conservation and Land Management Act and the Forest Management Regulations 1993.

Permits to use Apiary Sites on these lands have been issued since 1967 by the Department of Environment and Conservation and its predecessors. A 'Code of Conduct for the Harvesting of Forest Produce or Flora and for Apiary Site Permits on Pastoral Leases' was prepared in 2000 by the Department of Environment and Conservation in consultation with the pastoral industry, the Pastoral Lands Board and the Beekeeping and Forests Products Commission. The Code is a guide for beekeepers to minimise the effects of beekeeping on pastoral operations.  Beekeepers for instance must provide water at the hives for their bees, to reduce the risk of bees attacking animals using stock water troughs. Pastoral lessees may object to having apiary site permits issued on their leases.

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