Beekeeper monument generates buzz

Rotary Club of Southern Mitchell members met with representatives from Keep Victoria Beautiful to discuss the maintenance of a Northern Highway monument to apiarist Frederick Beuhne.

THERE was a buzz in the air when Rotary Club of Southern Mitchell members met with Keep Victoria Beautiful representatives last week to discuss a monument to the region’s most famous beekeeper.

Rotarians are keen to carry out maintenance and improvement works on land around a monument to Frederick Beuhne on the Northern Highway near its intersection with Broadford-Kilmore Road.

Beuhne was a beekeeper who moved from Germany to Tooborac and helped found the Victorian Apiarists’ Association in 1892. He is regarded by some historians as the ‘father of Victorian beekeeping’.

Rotary Club of Southern Mitchell member Ian Dempsey, himself a beekeeper, said he had been intrigued by the monument, which was erected in the 1940s.

“This monument has been here for some time … I always thought it was a Hume and Hovell monument, but it turned out it was for a chap called Beuhne who was one of the very first beekeepers in Victoria,” he said.

“He was the first president of the Victorian Apiarists’ Association. [This road] was his thoroughfare, and back in the 1940s they decided to put a monument up here on the path he would have taken down to Melbourne all the time.

“It’s something a bit different. Being a beekeeper myself it was very interesting to look into the history of it.”

Mr Dempsey said he got other Rotarians interested in beautifying and maintaining the area around the monument, including planting bee-friendly plants, removing weeds and adding information boards describing Beuhne’s life and the history of beekeeping in Victoria.

Mr Dempsey contacted environmental group Keep Victoria Beautiful for assistance with the project.

Keep Victoria Beautiful operates an Adopt a Roadside program in conjunction with VicRoads, providing volunteer groups with the necessary training, equipment and insurance to carry out roadside clean-up and beautification works.

Keep Victoria Beautiful’s Adopt a Roadside program manager Gary Mogford said he worked with volunteer groups to allow them to safely manage themselves.

“We do a lot of initial work with groups to work out what they want to do and then tell them what they can do and what they can’t do, and how and where,” he said.

“VicRoads will approve it and provide safety equipment for them.

“Groups that take part … largely do litter collection as their only activity, but there’s a few groups that do either weed eradication or revegetation work as well.”

Mr Mogford said it was good to have groups taking ownership of their roads.

“There are about 140 groups across Victoria involved and collectively they look after about 730 kilometres of road. If you wanted to drive that you could drive from Orbost to Portland. It’s a substantial activity that takes place across the state,” he said.

“Most groups do litter collection, and conservatively we estimate they’re picking up about 70 tonnes of rubbish per year off the roadsides.”

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