“To be honest, I headed back to Victoria and finished my Certificate 111 in Beekeeping which was great and sad at the same time,” admitted Claire.
“I enjoyed my time at Ag School learning and making friends with other beekeepers so much I didn’t want to graduate and I held off handing in my assignments because I was living the dream.”
Claire’s dream and passion is driven by the challenges facing bee populations across the world and she’s on a mission to inspire Australian bee keepers to increase their hive numbers and expand their commercial bee keeping operations while also exporting Australia’s healthy and clean bees to the world.
It’s been a lifelong passion. Claire grew up in a very small town near the Great Ocean Road called Bellbrae and attended Geelong College later moving to Melbourne where she completed a Bachelor of Arts majoring in political science. When she graduated, she started working in finance and spent more than a decade working in the city in stock broking.
Claire and Paul began investigating different regenerative farming practices once the firm Claire was working for closed its doors in Australia and that’s when she moved into bees full time. But it’s not been all smooth sailing. Claire’s Mother died of cancer in mid-2016 and in September 2016 Paul developed epilepsy and had a tough time finding the right medication and spent the next eighteen months controlling his seizures.
It was during this time, Claire lived a double life, working in an office during the day while at night attending beekeeping clubs to learn more from commercial beekeepers. She would see her work mate’s eyes glaze over when she spoke about bees and the mailroom politely asked if she could have her queen bees posted “elsewhere” when her hives needed re-queening.
Always fascinated by queen breeding, Claire decided early on she would prefer to be a queen breeder than a beekeeper for honey.
Claire met her partner Paul while volunteering making sandwiches for homeless people in inner city Melbourne. Paul is a horticulturalist and is always in the backyard. Claire purchased her first hive (which she still has) in 2007. Naively, she brought the hive home in the back of a two door hatchback with bees escaping while driving down the Eastern Highway!
Claire and Paul have always been passionate about sustainability and they converted their backyard into a massive veggie patch with fruit trees, bees and chickens. Their backyard has been featured in newspapers and on television many times as a model of suburban sustainability.
When their first child Hugh was born in 2011 the couple purchased ten acres in Kyneton. Claire wanted to be a full time keeper and Paul was tired of inner city traffic going from garden to garden. In 2013-14 they designed and built a sustainable house that was a finalist in the UN World Environment Day Green Build Awards on their ten acres and moved to Kyneton permanently. They’ve also had two more children, Freya in 2014 and Wren in 2016.