THERE’S nothing dull about Ray Hull.
The Tamworth beekeeper might consider himself a “small one-man show” but his 800-hive operation – with a golden personality to match – makes him one of the city’s most colourful faces.
The 54-year-old foreman-turned-cook had his first brush with beekeeping through his grandfather, who was once the largest beekeeper in the southern hemisphere.
While he dabbled in the art most of his life, he turned his passion into a commercial operation about 20 years ago.
Sixteen of those have been at his current Hull’s Honey Farm in the Tamworth suburb of Kootingal.
“I’ve been in bees all my life basically,” he said.
“I first started with my grandfather.
“I got sick of making other people rich, so thought I’d start my own business.”
Mr Hull likes to do things a little differently.
You won’t find him wearing a beekeeping suit.
And forget about covered shoes.
He doesn’t even wear gloves.
The larrikin instead sports thongs and flamboyant t-shirts with prints of orangutans or bees.
But don’t let that fool you.
He knows his stuff – and has the goods to back it up.
Not only is he one of the region’s biggest beekeepers, but he doubles as the NSW Apiarists’ Association Tamworth branch president.
Hull’s Honey Farm produces three kilograms of honey, which is shipped to Beechworth, to one kilogram of the by-product wax, which he also sells.
Mr Hull said it’s his love for “the dyeing art” that keeps him beekeeping around the clock.
“I’ve got the best office in the world, waking up in the bush, surrounded by nature,” he said.
“You get to actually create something, make something.
“Beekeeping is (a dyeing art), honey production is not.”