Hayley & Roger Mason, Toowoomba
Hayley and Roger Mason have recently moved back to their hometown of Toowoomba and are slowly setting up their Queenslander home. Apart from some special pieces of heirloom and handmade furniture that they have kept safe during travels, one of the first things to have become a part of the home is their hive. We caught up with the family on a warm day to learn more about their new love of beekeeping, their business Settler and watched on as they split the hive for the first time.
How did the two of you meet? Tell us about your journey together so far.
We met at a youth group when we were 12/13 and it turned out we lived two blocks away from each other. My high school bus used to stop right out the front of his house (his bedroom window was at the very front) and we used to hold signs up for each other as the bus went past.
We both moved to Brisbane for college and got married when we were 20/21 years old. Roger is a carpenter and I had a small business in event management. We packed it all up and threw ourselves into two suitcases to travel North America & Europe for 9 months. We lived between a motorhome, hired cars, a sailing boat and airbnbs. When we got back a year later we bought an investment house with tenants in Toowoomba. Six months later we moved to Canada to a small town inland from Vancouver and lived there for 3 years. We came back when our working visas ended and permanent residency application was postponed.
We packed it all up and threw ourselves into two suitcases to travel North America & Europe for 9 months. We lived between a motorhome, hired cars, a sailing boat and airbnbs.
What led you to keep bees?
We had spent two summers lapping up the hiking and fly fishing and incredible mountain surroundings and when we had our baby and had been through a long stretch of a cold wet winter we had many discussions about what fun project we could do in the approaching summer outside again, together with Scarlett in tow. We did really enjoy our river and lake days but also loved pottering around at home. Roger had always talked about keeping bees. His poppy kept hives for years, and my father is an agronomist by trade and spent a lot of time with hives in the sunflower fields. I remember at the time Roger saying to me 'you know there is a global colony collapse disorder...' And we had a backyard of blueberry fields so it seemed like the natural thing to do. We really enjoyed researching and YouTubing, learning how beekeepers did it! You can learn so much from each other.
I remember at the time Roger saying to me 'you know there is a global colony collapse disorder...' And we had a backyard of blueberry fields so it seemed like the natural thing to do.
What can you tell us about the Bee Club you guys are a part of?
Once you start learning a little about bees, it really becomes addictive. We found the The Southern BeeKeepers Association Toowoomba (I have since dubbed bee club) by googling where we could buy local honey (before we got our hives in Australia). Eating honey that comes from your local area is really good for you. We found out that the club meets monthly in a hired library room and has an official President, Treasurer and Vice President. Every meeting for the first hour they go through the minutes and agenda from the previous month, we love it! But we're all (probably averaging 50 of us) sitting there holding out for the last hours presentation and Q&A! It's a bee information overload. We're the youngest club members so any one of the long standing members getting up to speak on a particular topic offers a wealth of information. It's always super interesting, topics like bee swarming, disease prevention, local bee flora. The room is a goldmine of experience and the discussions and ideas on how to manage your hive is so diverse, we just soak it all up! My mum comes over to put Scarlett to bed so we go together, it's our kind of date night. Our Tobacco linen bedding featured in Hayley and Roger's cosy home.
And you launched Settler Hives seeds as a way to encourage people to plant more flowers for pollinator friendly spaces?
Yep! We love the full circle of it! It's so satisfying, so beautiful to look at and it feeds the bees and us. Bees pollinate so much of the fresh food we eat, multiplying the possible harvest of some plants by 25%. And others 100% ensure a plant's fertilization as some plants can't reproduce by themselves and rely on outside agents to move their genetic material from one plant to another. These agents include bees, some birds and wind. So cool how nature relies on that community.
What can you tell us about your daughter's personality? In what ways do you think she is similar to the two of you?
Oh she's a firecracker. She loves impromptu singing and dancing (using pieces of plywood left over from projects in the yard as a stage) and she also has Roger's serious creased brow frown when she is processing something, meeting people for the first time. Do you have a morning routine?
Roger is up and gone before we open our eyes! So S and I enjoy our slow mornings with porridge and fruit in our pyjamas stretching it out as long as we can. On weekends we all stroll down the road and get coffees and a babycinos together at The Baker's Duck or The Burrow. Or we do a cook up of eggs or Roger's specialty pancakes. A bedtime routine?
Usually involves an entertaining song and dance in a tutu… a few stories and then we step outside and say goodnight to the stars, the sky and the moon. Then S gets tucked into bed like a caterpillar.
What are some of the favourite pieces in your home?
Well we had been sitting on camping chairs since we moved back in July so it's so nice to now have my grandfather's old bentwood chairs at the table. With the gorgeous rattan too which we commissioned the Toowoomba Mens Shed to repair them after sitting in my parents storage for the last decade. The church pew I've been dreaming about for the table that I finally found, we picked up for $60 and will get it repaired. Roger built the bed frame to suit the angled ceiling of the barn we were living in on the blueberry field in Canada. And probably our newest piece is the camphor-laurel stump next to the bed that was handmade by our friends on the Gold Coast.
What are you looking forward to?
Growing! Learning as much as we can as we go. We're aiming to get ourselves into a position where both of us can focus full time on Settler as a brand and parenting! Having a kind of homestead lifestyle that creates its own income avenues where we can do life together daily not just after hours. The seeds have so much interest in Canada already as well and we know we can maximize the two opposite seasons when it's Spring here its Fall there making up a full year for us in growing seed seasons! We'll be setting up a home in Canada again in no time. Hopefully travelling back and forwards enjoying both places.