History of the beekeeping business
Sam and Ailsa Collins purchased the Tumoulin State School
including the school grounds, at an auction from the
Queensland Government in 1961. The Collins's had been
packing and selling honey since 1957. One of the first things
Sam did was shift their existing honey extracting shed to the
school site from their previous base which was also at Tumoulin.
This allowed them to immediately process their honey onsite
while they began to develop much of the beekeeping and honey
infrastructure that's on the property today. The original extracting
shed is still located at the back of the school building.
The school building itself was modified to accommodate a warm room, the well-equipped extracting facility which includes a honey frame uncapper, two large 100 frame radial extractors and a centrifuge on the first floor, while storage vats were strategically placed on ground level below the extraction area. A beeswax processing and packing area was also developed on the ground floor at the back of the building. Large storage sheds and a workshop were built by Sam behind and to the side of the school. A loading ramp was built against the school so honey boxes could be easily shifted from the deck of the truck to the first level of the building prior to extracting.
A cottage was also built for Sam's mother where she lived up until early 2004, immidiately prior to the business being sold to the new owner. Today, the cottage has been modified to accommodate a bottling and packing room as well as a dedicated storage area for honey containers and bottling materials. It also utilizes the existing kitchen, dining area and toilet facility as staff amenities.
After years of dedication and hard work, Sam and Ailsa developed a very large beekeeping enterprise and became a bulk supplier to one of Australia's largest honey packers. By the late 1990's, Sam and Ailsa began reducing the size of their beekeeping operation to reduce the workload.
After several years, the decision was made to sell the business - the sale occurred in March 2004. Today, the new owners are continuing the tradition of beekeeping that was established by Sam and Ailsa almost 50 years ago. While improvements have been made to the property, the consulted on matters related to beekeeping or honey production - from advice on floral sources to the subtleties of the honey creaming process, Ailsa remains a wealth of information. Today, honey produced is packaged and branded with the gagarra label as it continues to reach new and specialty markets with honey from the region's rich flora.
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