The bees – and their honey – quickly won Mark over and in 2017 he began documenting his hobby on YouTube, where he now has an impressive 22,000 subscribers.
“I was trying to become a bit more serious about beekeeping, so I was watching instructional videos. They were very informative but if you weren’t a professional beekeeper, they were boring,” he says.
“So the channel is sort of my journey into being a beekeeper, I’m there to learn with the audience which I think is appealing.”
Mark’s channel – The Bush Bee Man – covers all facets of beekeeping, from building enclosures and relocating bees to removing honeycomb and producing honey-based products. While viewers come in search of beekeeping tips, it’s Mark’s welcoming, passionate and quintessential Aussie personality that ensures they stick around.
“There’s no written script or plan and the show’s not trying to be anything other than what it is, and I think that’s what comes across, it’s just me,” he says.
“And apparently I’m funny.”
Two episodes are uploaded to the channel each week with the help of Mark’s son John who shoots and edits them while also maintaining Mark’s social media presence on Instagram and Facebook.
Loyal viewers eager to taste the honey have led Mark to sell his products – including honeycomb, raw honey and lip balm – internationally, with sales stretching into the US, UK, Canada and even Saudi Arabia.
“They want to support the show and taste something cool they’ve seen online, it’s madness to me honestly. Really, I think they only do it because they love me and want to taste some Australian honey,” he says.
“I wanted some exposure to get the general public interested in bees and the fact they’re important to the environment, but I never dreamed it would be international.”
Around 80 – 100 hives reside on Mark’s Riverland property, with up to 100,000 bees living in each box and feeding on the nearby Mallee bushland, which influences the taste of the honey to have a bold, distinct flavour.
“Every type of tree has a different tang to it, the flavour is very reflective of what the bees are working with,” he says.
“Until I got into beekeeping I didn’t think much of honey, it was just this kind of sweet and sticky stuff in the shop. But when you get natural honey from your own beehive or a local beekeeper, you get all the different flavour notes.”
Backed by subscribers, followers and even Patreons – who pay a monthly sum to help support the channel – Mark is excited for the future of the show and eager to continue sharing his passion for bees worldwide.
“They are absolutely intriguing little creatures and they are very misunderstood,” he says.
“We get quite a lot of emails from people who have had a bad interaction with bees and after watching they’ve started to notice bees in a different light and appreciate them for what they are, which is wonderful.”
This story was first published by Brand South Australia for the Regional Showcase.Jump to next article