Honey found in the pyramids could be eaten after 2000 years!
It was in the year 1924 that the Beekeepers of Western Australia conceived the idea of collectively market their product. The W.A. Beekeepers Association formed a committee to investigate the possibilities of selling their own honey because to that period all honey was packed and marketed by the wholesale merchants under their own brands. During the year 1925 an attempt was made by the Beekeepers to form the “Beekeepers Trading Company” with the object of selling the produce of apiarists and also the purchasing of apiarists supplies. It is believed that owing to the lack of finance this marketing attempt failed.
The year 1926 was a memorable one in the history of Western Australian Honey Industry. Two important people in the industry arrived from New South Wales to attend the conference of the Beekeepers Association; their names are W.S. Pender and G.G. Phillips. At this conference, marketing of honey in Western Australia was the most important item on the agenda. Negotiations had been going on with Westralian Farmers Co-operative Ltd., to formulate a co-operative honey pool and it was at this conference that the Beekeepers were to discuss the "Co-Operative Scheme." The N.S.W. delegates were quick to see the golden opportunity that had been offered to the Beekeepers of this State. Mr W.S. Pender who was the only manufacturer of beekeepers requisites in Australia, announced he would back such a project with sole agency rights for his beeware supplies.
It was then the West Australian Honey Pool was born.
Mr W. Arnott, the Assistant General Manager of Westralian Farmers Co-Op Ltd, called a meeting of all Beekeepers interested in a voluntary honey pool and formulated plans. The original Board of Trustees were as follows:
Mr W. Arnott, Mr Charles Cook, Mr Arthur Cook, Mr L. J Skipper and Mr C.G. Rees. Mr E. Wilson was elected at a later date.
All these gentlemen are now deceased with the exception of Mr L. J. Skipper.
Mr H. L. Cailes who was employed by the Agricultural Department as a Fruit and Bee Inspector was appointed Manager of the Honey Pool and under his direction a processing plant was installed at Westralian Farmers building in Stuart Street. This plant which had taken many months to assemble was found to be inadequate to handle the job for which it had been designed. Mr Cailes resigned his position and left the Pool without a Manager, forthwith.
Mr J. H Worthington, Secretary for the Pool persuaded Mr L. J. Skipper to take over the managership and remodel the plant.
The result was a commercial packing plant. A competition to obtain a suitable name to “brand” the honey was conducted through the newspapers with the result that “Wescobee” brand was decided. The winning entry was sent in by the late Mr A. C. Kessell of Westfarmers and the name was coined from the words West Australian Co-Operative Beekeepers.
Mr Tom Powell took over the sales side of the organisation in 1932 and conducted “Honey Weeks” in the country with the result that the 1933 Pool was the most successful ever held to that date. About this time Mr L. J. Skipper decided to reorganise his bee farms and concentrate on the production side of his business.
Mr R. E. Moyle was then appointed Manager of the Pool, and each Pool paid a better and better price to beekeepers for their honey. During the war, and the years immediately following, the Pool was instrumental in organising and exporting much needed honey in the “Food for Britain” appeal. Following on this success other export markets were expanded including the continent of Europe, India, Malaysia, East Africa, Egypt and even New York. With the result, production of honey in Western Australia has been stepped up and markets were assured. The Beekeepers of West Australia own and control their own marketing organisation and it is interesting to note – The W. A. Honey Pool is quite voluntary; complete freedom is held out to every beekeeper: it is a child of co-operation.
Compiled by Tom Powell – Manager of the Honey Pool – 19.06.56