There’s a swarm of secrets within the waxy beehive walls.
“Bees are the most amazing little creatures,” Britzman says, “and they bring so much wonderment to my life.”
High upon Britzman’s slanting farm beside a peaceful frog pond lives a hive of humming pollinators. Their sweet-smelling abode is a handy base for exploring the surrounding wilds.
Britzman grew up on a farm in the American Midwest, where her fondness for bees began. The scientist and former wetland biologist has cultivated a motherly connection with her winged friends since moving to the verdant Huon Valley in southern Tasmania.
“They actually kind of recognise you and your voice and your smell,” Britzman says.
I do try to talk to the bees every day, just so that they know who I am – that I’m there to look after them.
The 52-acre farm is a hive of activity for Britzman. She busies herself harvesting honey and beeswax, and growing lavender and olives to make teas and oils. Then when Tasmania’s chilly Off Season rolls around, Britzman runs a hands-on secret lives of bees workshop.
“I just wanted people to realize how important bees are to the planet,” the beekeeper says.
“They're a really strong piece of the ecological puzzle that we need to survive.”
The workshop begins in Britzman’s cosy farmgate shop, where she explains who’s-who in the hive and breaks down the honeybee life cycle. Guests then learn how to test honey to ensure the gooey, golden liquid contains the perfect percentage of water.
Then, it’s time for three creative activities – starting with a close look at the curious pollinators through a microscope. At the next station, visitors roll up fragrant beeswax candles to take home. Lastly, Britzman teaches how to make reusable beeswax wraps using organic cotton and vegetable ink dyes.
“That’s a gift from the bees,” Britzman says.
The next undertaking is a tasting of five caramel-sweet Tasmanian honey varieties, oozing with floral flavour.
“Depending on where your bees live, your honey is going to taste different,” Britzman says.
Campo de Flori (‘field of flowers’ in Italian) makes an arresting backdrop for this creative winter workshop. Although the florals aren’t in bloom and the bees are in hiding – clustered around their queen to keep warm – the Off Season finds other ways to bring beauty to Britzman’s expansive farm.
Olive trees line a hillside carpeted with snow. Meltwater flows through the Huon River beneath the powder-white Hartz Mountains peaks. A thick fog known locally as the ‘Huon Valley doona’ visits during the crisp winter mornings, stopping just shy of the Campo de Flori fence line.
In this quiet calm, Britzman and her guests relish the fresh air and dramatic scenery.
People come here in the winter, and they're just gobsmacked by the views.
The workshop ends with a satisfying communal spread of hot drinks, honey and food pairings in the wintry outdoors. Rather ingeniously, Britzman’s roaring pizza oven doubles as a heater. They don’t call her a ‘Seasoned Off Seasoner’ for nothing.
Meet Matt Wesley, a serial ‘cold plunger’ whose guided wilderness walks end with an almighty dunk into the freezing Tasmanian water. In the Off Season, snowmelt from kunanyi / Mount Wellington surges down the Hobart hillsides and fills the cool pools of North West Bay River. Are you up for the plunge?Read more
Meet our seasoned Off Seasoners – artists, hikers, makers and musos – and open the door to winter with a sassy spin. The Off Season Community is your personal invitation to embrace the cooler weather, banish the winter doldrums and fall asleep with a satisfied grin.Come on in