The fast and the furious

12 Oct 2018

Not even anaphylaxis can keep this bee-loving trio down. From the boxing ring to the apiary, here’s the fascinating story behind Furious Bee Honey.

The boxing ring might seem like an unlikely place for a beekeeping business to blossom, but that’s exactly where Furious Bee Honey got its start.

Romesh (Romo) Fernando, Jason (Junior) Baird and David (Jenko) Jenkins are all talented boxers – Romo even represented Australia at the Commonwealth Games – and have spent years sparring in the ring. But beyond the friendly hooks and jabs an unusual passion for bees was lying dormant.

This passion was awakened when, few winters ago, a swarm of bees chose Romo’s backyard to set up home. Instead of moving the colony on, Romo decided to relocate it into a hive and then poured his spare time into bee research. From one hive the apiary has grown and together with his boxing buddies, Romo has created a thriving local business dedicated to the conservation of bees, and the production of 100 per cent pure, unrefined, unprocessed honey.

Here’s the story.

TBT: How did you get into the honey business and what were you doing beforehand?

RF: Before getting into the honey business I was running a boxing gym and making granola/muesli as a full time gig. I still run the boxing gym with my two partners in the business, and run Furious Bee at the same time.

I was always keen to set up a hive in the backyard but a busy work schedule prevented me from getting around to it.  Then one morning, I was in the backyard and I found a swarm of bees had set up a hive in an old flower pot. I was so fascinated by the colony! I started learning more about bees and how a colony functions. I transferred the colony (from the flower pot) into a hive and spent most of my time reading and researching how to care for them and expand the colony.

This was a four-year process and four years down the track, this fascination of bees has grown into a full-time occupation.


TBT: How quickly has The Furious Bee Honey Co. grown?

RF: It has taken four years to learn the art of beekeeping and caring for the bees. We have done the hard yards over the past four years to set up the foundations for the company.

Furious Bee was registered as a company in early 2017 and the growth since then has been extremely fast. We’re now in over 30 retail outlets and counting, plus looking at exporting to Dubai and China in the coming year.


TBT: Have you been stung often? How do you avoid being stung when harvesting and does the thought make you anxious?

RF: I have been stung quite a number of times which is quite a painful experience. Being highly allergic to bees and having anaphylactic reactions is a bit of a concern. I always have my epi pens handy so I can administer a shot of epinephrine to counter any reaction I may have.

This doesn’t turn me off keeping bees and the passion will never leave me. What it does mean is that I’m more careful these days and wear a thick bee suit so I’m well covered. The boys stay alert and make sure that I’m always safe.


TBT: What’s the single most surprising fact about beekeeping?

RF: There are so many surprising facts about bees but one that surprises a lot of people is that a colony of bees is all female.


TBT: How crucial are bees to our environment and ecosystem?

RF: Without these beautiful creatures we would cease to exist. Bees pollinate approximately ninety percent of all fruit & veg consumed by humans. They are our keepers!


TBT: What makes The Furious Bee Honey Co. different to your competitors?

RF: We don’t blend our honey with cheaper honey varieties, and we don’t heat our honey, which kills the goodness that’s in it when it’s raw.

Our honey is single origin, cold extracted and bottled.


TBT: Are there any factors that affect the flavour of the honey – are any of these influences desirable?

RF: There are many factors that affect the flavour of honey. Nectar collected from different flowers will affect the flavour, for example. Even nectar collected from the same flower species from two different regions will have a different taste.


TBT: What are the health benefits of eating honey?

RF: Raw honey is packed with health benefits. It’s know to strengthen the immune system and regulate blood sugar levels.


TBT: What’s the single most enjoyable aspect of your job?

RF: Being out in native forests surrounded by nature is really cool. It’s definitely good for the soul. Also, having the opportunity to learning from these beautiful creatures is just unbeatable.


TBT: Finally, how do you best enjoy your honey?

RF: On toast and in drinks.


Want to know more about the Furious Bee Honey story? Visit their website, follow them on Instagram (@thefuriousbee) or pop into The Black Truffle where you can purchase the company’s range of 100 per cent pure, unrefined and unprocessed honey.