Six Generations Of Bee-keeping

Written by: The Hilltops Phoenix

Ken-Tanson
IMAGE: Ken Tanson has over 50 years of experience with bees.

A sixth-generation beekeeper, Ken Tanson started working in the family business when he was just 12 years old.

“My family started in Gunderoo with bees in 1854 with 20 hives,” Ken said.

“My father, who passed away just last year, could remember bringing the hives down to Harden on a horse and dray and taking three days to get there.”

“Back in Germany, we go back another 100 or 200 years.”

“To my knowledge, and I haven’t found anyone who can say otherwise yet, we are the oldest beekeeping family on this continent.”

“There are a couple coming up to 4 or 5 years, but we’re the oldest.”

Ken, who is 63 now, started working with bees full time when he was 14.

A few years ago, Harden’s House of Honey was quite a large enterprise that included a honey packing business, supplying 125 to 130 shops and restaurants in Southern NSW and exporting to Hong Kong.

Semi-retired now, Ken has maintained the shop which is open from Thursday to Monday.

“We rely on return customers and tourism and during COVID we had none of that,” Ken said. “We shut down for a few months.” “COVID did have an impact on our business, but it enabled us to catch up on a little work at home and other work.” “You can see how many businesses were affected by COVID; how many empty shops there are at the moment.” Ken said that beekeeping was not like farming, where you could gauge what to expect from previous years. “I’ve never had two years the same in 50 years of beekeeping,” he said. “People tend to think you can just walk in and become a beekeeper.” “You really need to spend 8 or 10 years with a commercial beekeeper learning about the bees, timber, area and things like that before going out on your own.” Ken said it wasn’t uncommon for people who have been keeping bees for 20 years to still be learning. Harden’s House of Honey is open for business from 9 am to 4 pm Thursday to Monday.

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