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About Us


In the BEEginning, there were honey bees

Even as a child, Russell was passionate about these busy little insects. His first encounter was when his father caught a swarm of honeybees in a chaff bag, brought them home and shook the bees into a second hand box. Russell’s enthusiasm rapidly grew. With the help of his father, he spent every opportunity available to grow his colony numbers. Russell owned 40 colonies of honeybees before he could drive. By age 19, he owned nearly 100 colonies of honey bees.


And then came Native BEES

As a boy in the late 60’s, Russell saw his first colony of native bees in a log that his father brought home after a day of timber cutting. His uncle also gave him a colony which he homed in an old honey bee nucleus box. His interest in native bees grew rapidly after reading Tim Heard’s press release in the local newspaper in the late 80’s. Within a few years, Russell had 40+ colonies in boxes.


A new BEEginning

Russell’s new wife Janine enjoyed keeping stingless bees too. She learnt something new every time they presented a display or workshop.


BEE hunting in Aurukun

We spent 5 days in Aurukun, far North Queensland on a reconnaissance trip to investigate the opportunity for indigenous people to farm native bees. With the help of elders and a small group of community members, we believed there to be great potential.


BEEn 3 months in far North Queensland in Aurukun, Weipa and Mapoon

We delivered basic training in these 3 communities. A number of colonies were established in each location. We were able establish the identification of 4 distinct species; T. hockingsi, T. sapiens, T. clypearis and A. cassiae.



Russell spent some time BEEing in Arnhem Land

I was very happy to spend time with and introduce the indigenous people to the idea of native beekeeping. There are many native bee nests up there on the plateau. Some species live in the crevices around the rocks and others co-habitate with termites in the termite mounds.



BEE'd all year in Aurukun

What a wonderful year of exchanging bee knowledge, box building and chainsawing! We were privileged and honoured to see and learn about their country and culture. What an amazing adventure. By the end of the year, 220 colonies were in boxes and honey was being sold.


Established our BEEkeeping business

We are now based on the family property at Hatton Vale. Our beekeeping hobby has rapidly turned into a business. Our colony numbers are growing and we are now needing to keep colonies on kind people’s property.


Russell BEEgan his collection of platycerium ferns

Russell has always had an interest in Platyceriums (staghorns and elkhorns). He loves the way they look in any location, whether on trees, buildings or mounted on boards. Russell has one of the largest collections of platyceriums in Australia.


to present

To BEE or not to BEE. It's time to leave TAFE!

The big decision was made. Russell was going to leave TAFE and we would work with the bees full-time. We have never looked back. As others have said to us many times: “I don’t know how I had time to go to work”. Russell and Janine currently keep 250 colonies of honeybees and many 100s of colonies of native bees.


to present

We employ Keith Langridge to assist us in our growing BEEkeeping business.


to present

Russell and Janine fly to Nhulunbuy (Gove peninsular)

to assist the Aboriginal-owned Gulkula Mining Company Pty Ltd in setting up a native BEE site on rehabilitated bauxite mining land. We were accompanied by our great friend Mark Annandale. T. hockingsi (small nest species) and T.mellipes were found near coastal wetlands.


to present

Russell and Janine change their business structure and form a company “Zabel BEEkeeping Australia Pty Ltd”


to present

We employ Deayegoh Foster as our BEEkeeping trainee. He has now completed the course and is employed full time in the business.


to present

A new honeyBEE shop was set up to cater for increasing interest in keeping honeybees in the Lockyer Valley.


to present

Russell and Janine commence short training workshops in keeping native BEEs, in our new training room.


to present

Russell obtains his Certificate 3 in BEEkeeping from Tocal college. Russell is contracted as a trainer of honey BEEkeeping by Foundation Training Australia. He is teaching trainees in the Certificate 3 in BEEkeeping.


to present

Russell obtains his Certificate 4 in Training and Assessment (TAE40116)

Russell’s Career Background

  • 1974 Commenced a carpentry apprenticeship
  • 1978 Carpentry tradesman
  • 1984 Building Estimator with AV Jennings homes
  • 1984 – 2006 TAFE carpentry teacher involved with training apprentices and builders
  • 2007 – 2012 TAFE educational manager
  • 2012 to present  Full time beekeeper

He holds the following qualifications

  • Diploma of teaching
  • Diploma of building
  • Bachelor of education
  • Bachelor of building surveying
  • Certificate 3 in beekeeping
  • Certificate 4 in training and assessment

Janine has been an active partner in the bee businesses. Having a background in dental nursing and food preparation, she is acutely aware of maintaining standards of quality and hygiene. She is the honey processing professional.

Core Values

  • Oneness of Mankind
  • Independent Investigation of Truth
  • All religions come from One God
  • Science and Religion are in harmony
  • Equality of Man and Women
  • Elimination of Prejudice
  • Universal Education
  • Spiritual Solution to Economic Problems

Our Role in the Baha'i Faith

We discovered the Baha'i Faith in 1997 and have been active members ever since. We believe in its teaching being the solution to the challenges and opportunities of our time. We invite you to research it for yourself and are always open to answer any questions to the best of our ability.

100% Australian Family Owned and Operated Company

ABN: 35626630082
ACN: 626630082

ABN: 35626630082
ACN: 626630082