Norm and Val Pope have been caring for their beehives and producing award-winning honey for more than 30 years. Based in Port Lincoln, the couple owns 200 hives, which they position on various farms and stations, all within a 120km radius of Port Lincoln.
Norm bought his first box of bees in 1979, and became a commercial apiarist in 1985. He’d always been interested in bees as a child, and his passion for apiary became his vocation when he left electrical contracting to focus 100% on his beehives. During the 1990s, Norm was a member of the State Beekeeping Executive Committee, and he has won many prizes in honey competitions, including several first prizes at the Adelaide Show. He looks for high hive productivity with less hives, rather than lower high productivity with more hives.
Any apiarist worth his salt has a keen interest in, and knowledge of, the flora local to their area. Accordingly, Norm is something of an expert about the flora of the lower Eyre Peninsula. The native flora of the area, and some of the introduced flora, gives the honey a diverse range of flavours and colours.
Norm and Val package about 35% of their honey themselves, with seasonal variation, at their extracting plant on the outskirts of Port Lincoln. They sell it through local shops, at markets, including the Eyre Peninsula Fisherman and Farmers’ Market, and at their farm gate. The remainder of their yield is sent to Spring Gully Pickles in Adelaide, who packages it under its own label.
Pope’s Honey specialises in varietal honeys, which change with the season and can be purchased in sets of three. As well as its jars of honey, which range in size from 3kg pots down to the very cute 25g jars, Pope’s Honey also produces honeycomb, honey biscuits, Pope’s Honey bars, candles, bee’s wax and creamed honey. Containing no additives, the creamed honey, which is a particular favourite of many right across Australia, has won many awards. The key successes were the Champion Honey in the Adelaide Show in 2014 and a Gold award in the commercial section of the Sydney Royal National Honey Show in 2015.
Norm and Val have received so much interest and enquiries from the public about the honey making process that they now open up their facility to groups by appointment. Tours include an interactive discussion about bees and how a beehive works, a demonstration of the extracting plant, a honey tasting, and the chance to sample some homemade honey products like biscuits or scones.
Pope’s Honey is a family business, a true cottage industry, and Norm and Val are very active amongst the local SA food producers. They’ve been Eyre Peninsula locals since 1962 and 1972 respectively, raised their kids in the Eyre region, and are active champions of local flora and food production. Their honey graces many a breakfast table across Australia, and their mini 25g pots are often used as wedding favours! As well as tasting delicious, the honey also has all sorts of healing properties – something to ask Val about when you go for a honey tour.