“I never thought, as a little girl in Beechworth, that we’d ever put our honey in jars, let alone open a shop in Melbourne,” says Jodie Goldsworthy, co-owner of Beechworth Honey.
Goldsworthy started the company 25 years ago with her husband, Steven. She’s a fourth-generation beekeeper who learned the craft from her parents – a childhood spent migrating around the country as they set up hives.
“As a child, you’re either left staying with family, or you’re dragged into the middle of nowhere. My backyard was the Australian bush. It’s a beautiful life and it’s a real privilege to be able to share that,” she says.
Today the Goldsworthys’ products are on supermarket and kitchen shelves all over the country, with a few more now that they’ve opened their first store outside Beechworth, in Melbourne’s CBD.
The narrow shop inside the ornate Block Arcade on Collins Street was built at the same time Jodie’s grandfather was looking for gold in Beechworth. Its high shelves of beauty products, candles, soaps and honey are shielded from the front window by photo panels displaying a eucalypt forest, giving the illusion of walking into the bush when you enter. In the centre is an island bench with a ring of jars of honey, all for tasting.
But your eyes will immediately be drawn to the imposing “honey altar” on the back wall – unmarked jars of honey in dramatic shades of gold, arranged on ceiling-high ledges that require you to crane your neck to admire them.
“What we wanted to do was really put on a pedestal the diversity of Australian honey,” says Jodie. “We wanted to make sure we brought the whole collection of varietal honeys.”
The store is almost entirely timber, made from Australian spotted gum, which is one of the 40-odd honey flavours produced this season.
Beechworth honey has more than 500 hives all around Australia, each of which houses an average of 30,000 bees. One hive will usually produce 100 kilograms of honey a year, which, as Jodie explains, is more bountiful than many others.
“Australian bees are more productive than in other parts of the world because we have a clean, healthy environment,” she says. “Eighty to 90 per cent of Australian honey is produced from native eucalypt forests so we’re away from agricultural chemicals. Australia’s bees are the luckiest in the world.”
Honey can vary in flavour and colour as much as wine, beer or coffee, and here the staff will help you find your “sweet spot” – the perfect, swoon-inducing honey for your palate, from the delicate and fruity, to the bold and very intense.
“What this place is really about is making sure that we can connect with our customer, to share the important work that we do,” says Jodie. “We’re really in the business of trying to protect and conserve the Australian beekeeping industry.
“Bees in Australia pollinate two-thirds of our food,” she adds. “The global stat is that one in three mouthfuls of food has been pollinated by a honeybee. I think it’s really easy to think of bees as honey – honey’s just the by-product. We need it to keep beekeepers in business, to keep [bees] doing their job of pollinating our avocados, our apples, our mangos, our nuts, seeds, fruit and vegetables.”
Shop 14, 282 Collins Street, Melbourne
(03) 5728 1433
Mon to Thurs 9.30am–5.30pm