A delighted audience at this year’s Australian Honey Bee Industry Council (AHBIC) Annual Dinner applauded the Council’s decision to make a dual presentation of the AHBIC Award of Excellence to John Bowland (JB Manufacturing) and Peter Cash (Bee Engineering) for their contributions as manufacturers of high quality honey extracting equipment. The awards recognised the efforts of both recipients in encouraging the Australian honey industry to reach out and meet the challenge of HACCP based food production.
The recipients Peter Cash from Bee Engineering, Western Australia and John Bowland, JB Manufacturing, Maiden Gully, Bendigo Victoria, were both in attendance and proudly accepted their awards from Mr Lindsay Bourke, AHBIC Chairman.
In 1997 Capilano Honey embarked on its drive to introduce HACCP standards to suppliers, highlighted by the release of its landmark "Reference Manual – Honey Extracting Facilities & Food Safety Program" in 1999. A lot of the success with the Manual and later the successful introduction of the B-QUAL Program (and others) was due to the efforts of both of these men. Why? With the introduction of Stainless Steel Horizontal Radial Extracting systems across the landscape of Australian beekeeping, came the need to upgrade "sheds". In essence QA followed advances in extractor design.
A little of the history of both recipients.
Peter Cash. Bee Engineering or Beequip was registered on the 30 th December 1980, in its early stages Peter spent most of his time repairing existing beekeeping equipment while he developed a de-boxer.
Perhaps not so well known is the fact that Peter, as a high school student assembled and wired frames for Ken Healey (a commercial apiarist) after school. He left high school at the end of third year and went to work for Ken. When Ken established Old Cottage Honey in 1971 Peter worked in the honey packing room. All up he spent 15 years working with Ken.
Peter recalled a Karri flow that began in January and ran through to June, they had 8 or 9 loads of bees and they worked long hours extracting 9 drums a day using a hand knife, cappings reducer and a Pender Galvanised 9 frame semi radial extractor. All powered by a 3hp Villiers motor. That flow produced 500 drums. He had 35 hives of his own that he worked on weekends. Nice to have a hobby! He now built a kit aeroplane, which he flies, for a hobby.
His mechanical and sheet metal skills were picked up along the way. Developments in design often came from beekeepers, in 1998/99 Phil McHugh (Tamworth); Brad & Joel Johnston (Gunnedah) flew to WA and from the visit the high output twin extracting system fed by one uncapper was developed with the uncapper fitted to a rotating ring.
His son designed the 4 vaned stainless steel cappings pump that sold over 70 units. The design was unique in that it allowed for the outer housings to be removed and the direction of fitting could be adjusted to suit plant design without any engineering changes. With the exception of the inner portion of the pumps that are symmetrical.
Peter built his first Uncapping Machine on the 20 th September 1982, a slide model based on the Cowen "Silver Queen", by the 1990’s chain feed uncapper sales outnumbered the slide feed machines.
In total 1357 uncapping machines have been manufactured.
Recently a WA beekeeper approached Peter and asked if his machine was still under warranty as he needed new blades for the knives and chains. Peter checked his records and found that the machine was 29 years old and this was its first major service!
Approximately 150 complete extracting systems have been sold.
All of Peter’s machines have been stamped with serial numbers.
Beequip has also manufactured 94 capping’s reducers. Plus many de-boxers.
He well recalls the comment made by commercial beekeeper from Tamworth over a decade ago that he had "revolutionised the beekeeping industry". That revolution was also exported overseas.
It has been 5 years since Beequip ceased making honey extractors but the manufacture of uncappers and de-boxers continues.
Today his uncappers feature SS sprockets, pressure bars, nuts bolts and main frame. They are a work of art and have a following in Australia and overseas.
Peter was open to change and requests for QA improvements to his machines, such as SS square tubing for the frame, covers under drive belts to keep honey free of belt rubber; BSM fittings in place of clamps, were willingly carried out.
When asked for his philosophy towards his equipment and design, Peter’s response was he didn’t have one, he simply strived for excellence, and there you have his philosophy.
His greatest challenge was to educate beekeepers in how to care for their new equipment, they did learn and the equipment is still pumping out honey throughout Australia and Europe.
Peter would like to see R&D put into developing better technology but recognises that we are part of a small industry and often growth is made through the endeavours of a few individuals.
John Bowland: A common link exists between JB Manufacturing and Beequip, a link forged by personal respect and friendship between Peter and John and the use by the latter of Beequip uncapping machines on his extracting systems.
To a larger extent John concentrated his extracting systems on the smaller sized machines, it would no doubt have come as a pleasant surprise to find his extractors located in state of the art mobile and central extracting plants handling hundreds of drums of honey a year. JB extractors ranged in size from one 36 fr to 42fr and 54fr Horizontal Radials.
These mighty extracting units now grace small to large operations and in nearly every place they have found a home, they have moved into pristine facilities.
Now for a little history, John started manufacturing his 3 bank 43 fr HR extractors in early 2000, Ken Smith, from Newstead got the first one, Glen Watson No.2, Ray Hall No.3; John Stanley No.4 and yes he does have a list of all who have purchased his machines.
John recalls attending the Tamworth NSWAA Field Day in 2000 and being laughed at and told to go back and build a bigger one. He has a photo of one those beekeepers with 3 of his extracting systems on his truck heading off to the Northern Tablelands of NSW. AHBIC Chairman Lindsay Bourke showed he is not one to play favourites; he now has a Beequip extracting system and a JB Manufacturing system.
John has manufactured 150 extracting systems and the audience was informed of a comment John had made prior to accepting the award "...that on a warm sunny summers day when the flows are in full swing, my "little" units would be humming away each turning out 10 drums a day and thinks, "that’s 1500 drums a day! Or almost $1.4 million a day!" There is satisfaction in those thoughts.
John’s association with the industry began when a friend introduced him to Roger Callaway from Bendigo. John was working in the Quarry and mining industry as a Sheet Metal worker/welder. He assisted Roger as he built his packing business. Like Peter Cash he started helping repair various pieces of equipment for beekeepers and began a business making metal lids for beehives, Bill Shay purchased that business from him. This was in the late 70’s. He has also manufactured over 100 hand grip machines that can cut rebates for boxes and nearly 300 reducers.
He recalls older extracting sheds that were constructed with sheets of tin, had bare copper pipes and were far from food grade. He wondered if it was safe to eat honey! Then Ken Smith (Newstead Vic.) asked him to make an extractor because QA was coming to the beekeeping industry. Ken showed him the Capilano Manual and he recalls saying at the time that this was "the best thing that had happened in his time with beekeepers." After 3 months urging he finally made Ken his extractor. The rest is history
Asked what his philosophy was, John replied "to retire at 50!" He is now 60. He thought a little longer and commented that his goal was to build an extracting system that would be virtually trouble free. A 4 bank extractor was too high and that was the reason for settling on a 3 bank machine.
Through much of his time developing and producing his extracting equipment, John endured a major health crisis and has drawn a huge amount of comfort from the goodwill shown by the beekeepers with whom he has had dealings over the past years. John suggested that over 80% of those using his extracting system are now personal friends.
John has taken a year away from manufacturing and may sell his business in the near future. As you read this he is heading towards the tip of Cape York with a group of friends riding BMW motorbikes with sidecars, they will then turn South and head for Birdsville.
Both men when asked if they would accept the award in person in Launceston, without hesitation agreed to make the trip. They were truly amazed that AHBIC would recognise their endeavours and honour them in this manner at the AHBIC Annual Dinner.
Men of vision honoured together on the evening was very special, their contributions to the improvement of honey extracting standards in Australia has now been recognised at the highest level by an appreciative industry.