Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Beekeepers of One Tree Hill

In the early 1880’s there were 200 or so beekeepers in the Adelaide area probably all employed in other vocations.  Ten years earlier beekeeping on a sizable scale was desired for the colony and several dedicated professionals began to encourage and nurture this notion.   By the 1880’s South Australia is believed that it was the most advanced in beekeeping in Australia.
Honey was valued in cooking, a substitute for the cane sugar which was rare here, and for cross pollination of vegetable and fruit crops.

One of Adelaide’s earliest professional hive-makers was August Fiebig.  He established a shop in 1882 on the arrival of his family eleven months after his own arrival from Peterswaldau, Silesia. He was born in 1883 and upon arrival could not speak a word of English, but having a very good memory and being an avid reader he quickly learnt.

He leased part of a building on the Moger Lane corner.  Fiebig had many talents, he was a musical instrument maker and repairer, band instructor and could play brass wood and reed instruments.  
He traded as A. Fiebig & Son and experimented with making Dzierzon and other hives.    Dzierson was a Prussian clergyman, expert on bees and August’s teacher and introduced the Ligurian bee to Silesia in 1853.  Fiebig experimented with breeding the Ligurian bee on Kangaroo Island in 1885, which his eldest son managed.   It did not find much interest to other bee specialists.  In 1881 Fiebig established an apiary and introduced the Ligurian strain of bees from Italy. The Ligurian bees on Kangaroo Island are believed to be the last remaining pure stock of this bee found anywhere in the world.

August and his family moved to One Tree Hill in 1892, taking up other employment and continued as professional apiarists at their Italian Bee Farm.  He purchased the local store and post office and ran both until a few days before his death in 1928.   His large aviary was run with one of his son.  The apiary lay on the banks of the Little Para river.  Following heavy rain in 1923, the bee hives were flooded the destroying over 200 colonies.
He had four sons, Rudolph who was the local post master, Paul a music teacher who moved to New South Wales, Oscar a state school teacher, and Charles who worked in the Water works in Western Australia.  Rudolph was a skilled carpenter and hive maker.

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