There have always been commercial beekeepers at work here. We used to see trucks loaded with hives in our country travels as they moved them from place to place, following the blossom that makes our unique honey flavours and also playing an important part in horticulture and agriculture by assisting in pollination of fruits and other crops. And, of course, there's the honey. I remember going to an agricultural show as a very young girl and being given a chunk of dripping honeycomb straight from a hive as part of a demonstration on beekeeping - and delicious it was too.
Recently, though, beekeeping has become a popular hobby, too, and it's becoming quite trendy to have a hive or two in your backyard - of the more than 900 registered keepers in Western Australia (who have nearly 29,000 hives between them) about 90% are small amateur beekeepers. The authorities have a good grasp of numbers because all hives must be registered and this is a wise requirement if we are to keep our hives free of the pests that are decimating hives in many other areas. For the same reason it is prohibited to import much that is associated with beekeeping (including bees) into Western Australia. I was told by a professional beekeeper that despite all our efforts they anticipate that pests will eventually reach here. It's only our relative isolation that has protected us so far. For that reason there are a few colonies maintained on isolated islands as insurance for the future.
It's sad that we have to think this way, isn't it, but at least we are doing something proactive and as long as we keep doing this we'll have enough bees around to pollinate our flowers, something that is critical for our food supply, as well as to produce the delicious treat that is honey.
There's information on beekeeping in Western Australia here.