Luke de Laeter is our first Teenovator
“I think bees are amazing!” Luke de Laeter’s interest in bees began just three years ago but he has an infectious enthusiasm for these pocket-rockets of biodiversity and sustainability. De Laeter established his own business, Luke’s Bees, to spread the word on the power of bees to secure our future wellbeing and offers Luke’s Bees Incursions at schools, festivals and community organisations. At school for most of the week, de Laeter spends his weekend organising incursions, caring for hives and jarring honey that he sells.
Luke will join Global Table 2019 as a Teenovator, spreading the good word about bees. Interested in also becoming a Teenovator? Apply now.
What sparked your interest in bees, Luke?
I have always loved nature; I grew up with a vegetable garden, chooks and making cubbies. Then for my 14th birthday, I was given a hive, the ultimate sustainable garden present. I soon realised I had a lot to learn and enrolled in as many bee courses as I could. I also teamed up with a local apiarist Roy, who’s now my bee buddy, helping with the harvest and checking the health of the hive. I now have three hives and hope to expand to 15 in the next year.
What’s the coolest fact about bees in your opinion?
It takes approximately 550 worker bees to gather 500 grams of honey, the size of the jars I sell. The average worker bee will make only one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime (which is six weeks).
Do you have any words of wisdom for people who are scared of bees?
If you see bees in your backyard walk slowly, stop and observe them flying from flower to flower, drinking nectar and collecting pollen. Don’t be scared of them: a third of everything we eat is pollinated by bees.
What does your business Luke’s Bees do?
Luke’s Bees educates people on the importance of bees in the environment through my unique Bee Incursion program, where I take everything to do with keeping bees (except the live bees!) into schools and businesses. I bring a hive to demonstrate how to use beekeeping tools, as well as photos and books that show what happens inside the hive, and ask an audience member to be my bee buddy and help demonstrate. I have spoken to more than 5,000 fellow students in more than 60 schools about my passion for bees.
As a beekeeper, I’ve also learned how to care for the bees, harvest honey, extract it and then jar it to sell to family and friends.
How do you find the time to run a business while you’re still in high school?
School has been very supportive of my business, allowing me to work every Wednesday, and my parents are helping me learn about bookkeeping, invoices and expenses.
Setting up my business at a young age has taught me that once you’ve found your passion anything can be achieved.
What will be your Teenovator message for the leaders at Global Table?
Bees play a critical role in preserving the world’s ecosystems and promoting biodiversity through pollination. Without bees the future of our food production would be in grave danger.
One-third of the world’s food supply relies on bees to pollinate crops that assist in producing our food. Bees are responsible for billions of dollars in crop value every year.
Together we need to create sustainable, eco-friendly towns and cities that support our natural ecosystems, including our bees. We all must plant more flowering plants and not use chemicals in our gardens. Bee education is essential for understanding the important link between bees and our sustainable future.
Where do you hope to take your interest in bees in the next five years?
I hope to continue my studies in Sustainability and Conservation and link it to my beekeeping business. I’ll also expand the number of hives and increase the sales of my raw honey. And, of course, I’ll continue my Bee Incursions and introduce online bookings so it’s easier to inspire and teach others the importance of bees.
What is your favourite type of honey, and how do you like to eat it?
Nothing beats the taste of raw honey. My favourite is wildflower honey: it has a sweet flowery taste with a light colour. I love to have it on top of my porridge in the morning.
What advice do you have for other young people that are passionate about a cause but may not know how to start publicising it?
After finding your passion, believe in yourself that you can make a difference. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and enrol in as many courses as possible to build up your background knowledge on the subject. Start small with word of mouth and social media and then build a website. You will have setbacks, but learn from them and carry on. Believe in your cause and you will succeed.
Picture: Danella Bevis, The West Australian