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Varroa Destructor Mite - threatening our Australian Beehives

Posted by Lilly Choi-Lee on

Threat to the Australian bee and honey industry.

Varroa Destructor.  The name itself sends shivers up one's spine & you would be correct in imagining a monstrous sci-fi creature rearing up to devour earthlings and any living creature on our planet.

This imagery is perhaps not so far-fetched as this mite does endanger a crucial link in our ecosystem of life - the European honey bee.  And we all know that bees, already globally threatened, are essential pollinators and therefore part of our food source and crop production.  

We spoke with Michael Howes, our partner artisan from Australia's Manuka Honey at Tyagarah Apiaries, as to the impact on his bees and hives.  Fortunately, Michael's team of beekeepers are super vigilant and the hives are untouched at this stage.

We would like to share some insights with our tribe of followers to better understand why this tiny mite is such a massive deal.

What is it?

(Image from The Australasian Beekeeper magazine instagram @theabkmag)

The size of a sesame seed, about 1.5mm, the reddish-brown Varroa Destructor Mite (hereon will refer to simply as the varroa mite) live off the heamo-lymph and fatty tissue of the European bees, usually in a place between the abdomen and thorax junction area, weakening them so they cannot do their work.  Even worse, they invade the heart of the beehive to feed and reproduce on larvae & pupae in the developing brood, not just debilitating them, but causing malformations as well.  

If you imagine a giant tick, the size of your fist, sucking out your bodily fluids, that's what's happening to the poor bees!

The infectious bees transfer to others very quickly and if left untreated, the pest will kill any beehive it infests - including all feral and untreated bee colonies.  The drone bees are the key carriers as they move from hive to hive and even between apiaries.

When did it last enter Australia?

Australia is the last bastion to resist the Varroa mite as we have such diligent and strict quarantine requirements in place at our ports to protect the Australian honey bee industry. 

Michael says, "The potential financial cost to Australia is estimated to be $70 million per year, if the mite becomes established.  About one third of Australia's food production relies on bee pollination (almonds, avocados, apples, and more)." 

The Varroa Destructor mite was detected in surveillance hives in Newcastle Port at the end of June 2022.  According to ABC news, it has now spread about 400 kms from the port to around 40 properties across New South Wales.  

What can you do?

"The sadness in euthanising bees as a result of the Varroa mite landing at the Newcastle Port a couple of weeks ago, is overwhelming.  From fires to floods, to this deadly parasite - our thoughts are with other beekeepers as we face yet another trying time". 

If you are an unregistered beekeeper, register online the NSW government website  to let them know where existing hives are, enabling ease of contact should others around your zone be infected.

As the Varroa mite does not harm the native bee, you need not worry they will be infected - however, your vigilance in detecting them and advising authorities will prevent the destruction of the vulnerable European beehives!  

If you do detect any suspicious mites, contact the department via email: or call the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline 1800 084 881.

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for reading this & please spread the word.


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DIY Certified Organic Mould Spray

Posted by Lilly Choi-Lee on

La Niña has ended for now... but left behind a lot of mould in its wake.

There are some specialty commercial mould removers on the market but they contain bleaches and chlorine, which when used improperly, can be hazardous.

The following is a solution using Australia's own medicine cabinet in a bottle - certified organic tea tree oil with its antimicrobial and antifungal properties, gentle on your bathroom, shower surfaces and health, but tough on mould! 

To really allow the tea tree oil to work its magic, you'll need to attack the mouldy areas and let it sit overnight.

What you'll need:

1 teaspoon Certified Organic Tea Tree by Olive Gap Farm

1 cup cooled boiled water or filtered water

Glass trigger spray bottle

White Vinegar

Microfibre cloth

What to do:

Mix certified organic tea tree essential oil and filtered/boiled water into the glass trigger bottle.  Put the lid on tightly & shake vigorously to mix well.

Spray on affected areas & leave overnight.

By the next morning, the mould should have died, dip the microfibre cloth in the vinegar & scrub remnants of mould away until clean!  Areas of grout may benefit from a scrub with an old toothbrush before rinsing.

Make sure you wash the cloth in boiling hot water to prevent mould from spreading or dispose of the cloth.

Remember to clear the nozzle after each use by removing it, spray out excess solution before replacing back onto bottle.

We love glass because it won't leach chemicals into the contents - plastics can do that if you store the solution.  This tea tree solution can be stored for around 6 months without losing its potency.

Tea tree oil in its pure form and stored in a cool, dark place and cared for by keeping the bottle airtight will last 2 - 3 years without losing efficacy.

Enjoy Australia's medicine cabinet in a bottle!

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Berry Beetroot Birchia Porridge

Posted by Lilly Choi-Lee on

Winter has come.

And what better way to start each chilly morning than to cook up deliciously warming porridge - with a difference...  Introducing from the kitchens of our artisan partners, Mindful Foods, this delicious recipe utilising berries, Birchia Paleo & our Stardust Longevity Nutrient Powder that is packed full of antioxidants.  Sprinkle with our pretty organic 24carat Gold Leaf Botanical garnish & the very sexy Eros Love & Vitality Granola & you will be set for the day!

Perfect to battle Winter Colds.  Perfect for your tummy & tastebuds.  This recipe is generous enough to serve 2.


3/4 cup Birchia Paleo Prebiotic Granola

1 cup milk of your choice 

1 cup water

1 tbsp Stardust Longevity

1/4 cup frozen berries

1 tbsp Australia's Manuka Honey (MGO100+ is perfect) or Maple Syrup 

1 tbsp Coconut Yoghurt

24 carat gold Botanical garnish (stunning to behold)

1 generous handful Eros Love & Vitality Granola


1. In a medium saucepan, add Birchia, milk water & Longevity powder.  Gently heat and stir until your desired consistency is reached, about 5 - 10 mins.

2. Heat berries with honey or maple syrup in a small pan with a splash of water

3. When cooked to perfection, spoon into bowls & top with berries, coconut yoghurt, Eros granola & Botanical garnish.

4. Set an intention & eat to nourish your day:)

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New Certified Organic Tea Tree Hydrosol

Posted by Lilly Choi-Lee on

New product on the certified organic block!!

We are super excited to introduce this beautiful by-product of the traditional wood-fire distillation method used by our Olive Gap farmers:  certified organic tea tree hydrosol.

I remember when we first drove down to meet Tara & Alex on their tea tree farm down in Woodburn.  It was the classic word-of-mouth-instructions only (forget Google) - drive along this road, take a turn at that tree and look out for the giant red floral sculpture...

That day we made the acquaintance of the neighbours' cows, the natural weed-controllers and were introduced to what life living off the grid actually looks like.  We were blown away by the simplicity and beauty of this communal concept, and in awe of the amount of work it actually takes to live so independently and symbiotically with Mother Nature.

At that time, Tara & Alex told us they were considering using or selling the hydrosol in some form but were unsure of how this would look like and also weren't sure when they could fit yet another project into their busy lives.

Almost two years later, they have done it!

This pure tea tree hydrosol is special.

Certified organic, regeneratively farmed & grown, gathered to be carbon positive and bottled by our team on their beautiful Northern Rivers land.

Artisan distilled with wood fire steam distillation - a method passed down from their predecessor Arthur - resulting in the cleanest and greenest tea tree hydrosol possible.  No nasties, no additives.

Hydrosol contains similar therapeutic properties to pure essential oil; imagine a ready-to-use spritzer as a natural facial toner, a deodorising spray and an all purpose antibacterial face, hair and body mist - all rolled into the one package.

Tea tree oil is a gateway to a plastic and chemical free lifestyle with so many benefits for your home, body and the planet! Check out our blogs  (in three parts) with advice by Tara on all the wonderful uses of this Australian native botanical essential oil.

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Margarita Pyewackets Style

Posted by Lilly Choi-Lee on

We adore this Mango, Lime & Jalapeno Margarita that the Pyewacket team, Jenna & Katrina have concocted just for you.   Fruity, sour and spicy, this shrub is perfect for margarita lovers. 

Salting the glass rim first is entirely optional but we are fans of this classic move - instructions below!

Pop a large ice cube to each margarita glass

35ml tequila or mezcal

35ml Pyewackets Mango, Lime, Jalapeno Shrub

100ml Soda Water or enough to top up glass

Stir.  Garnish with fresh or dried lime

May we suggest you pop on your sombrero & throw back some Chipotle munchies before chillaxing with your tribe!  



How to salt rim your glass:

Lime - cut into quarter - only need a quarter

Kosher salt in a saucer/plate that's bigger that your glass rim

If time, chill your glass/glasses to get that cool effect, otherwise room temperature is fine! 

1.  Cut a notch in middle of flesh of your quartered lime & run it all around the rim of the glass

2.  Dip the "limed" rim into the kosher sauce - I like to waggle it as I like the salt falling into my margarita, but if you don't, hold the glass so rim is angled & roll only the outside of rim around to salt

3.  Prepare the margarita recipe from here!

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