Hailing a taxi is not usually considered within the realm of royalty. But a new partnership between Bega Cheese and Silver Top Taxis is providing a regal service fit for a queen - queen bees that is.
Did you know queen bees are carefully bred and then sent to beekeepers to maintain top quality hives, primarily through the post?
However, an overreliance on the postal system and the lack of alternative transport methods has reportedly been wreaking havoc for bees and unfortunately, queen bees don't always make it safely to their destination.
B Honey - owned by Bega Cheese - wanted to help and so created the "Queen Bee Chariot" with Silver Top Taxis.
The service picks queen bees up sooner and delivers them quicker than the usual postal system route - and in an air-conditioned vehicle - to transport queen bees safely.
The Queen Bee Chariot initiative kicked off in February, assisting Victorian queen bee breeder David Briggs to transport his queen bees.
Mr Briggs has been breeding queen bees for over 14 years. He breeds his queen bees between September and March, with this season having just come to an end last week.
He wanted Australians to know just how important queen bees are, and in turn, how devastating it was when they don't make it to their destination.
"Loss of breeder queens in transit is devastating for both the queen bee breeder and apiarist receiving the queen bee," Mr Briggs said.
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"A lot of work goes into producing breeder queens and to see that wasted without those genetics being passed on is a loss to the whole beekeeping industry - queen bees are the result of decades of selective breeding and underpin the viability of the industry.
"Queen bees are vulnerable to heat and high temperatures during transport - so you can imagine that this, combined with an overreliance on the congested postal system, can be a matter of life or death for the queen bees that Aussie bee breeders so carefully look after."
While most queen bees make their way to beekeepers through the post, to be introduced to their hive upon arrival, the first B Honey and Silver Top Taxi Queen Bee Chariot ride delivered a "nucleus colony" during its first trip in February - which means that not only did the queen bee travel in style, but she also travelled with her own bees in tow.
"When B Honey heard about the difficulties that the beekeeping industry was facing, we knew we had to do something to help," said Jacqui Roth, spreads marketing manager at Bega Cheese.
"The Queen Bee Chariot delivered several queen bees from David's apiary in Glenrowan between February and the end of the queen bee breeding season last week.
"B Honey is thrilled that the Queen Bee Chariot safely transported queen bees across Victoria. The initiative embraced the Aussie spirit of giving new things a go, and we can only hope that this initiative educates people - not only around some of the challenges that the industry faces, but also around the importance of bees."
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Chico Hazik has been driving taxis with Silver Top for over 30 years and was charged with the particular taxi dubbed the Queen Bee Chariot, which was responsible for transporting the very precious cargo.
"I've driven a lot of important people, but I've never driven a queen bee before, this is a great initiative by B Honey and Silver Top Taxis, I'm proud to be able to do my part," he said.
Craig Scott, a beekeeper based in Echuca, was the very first to receive a visit from the Queen Bee Chariot in February.
"It's unique to have queen bees travel door to door. Receiving queen bees in a timely manner means that the queen is a lot healthier. Queen bees deserve to be treated like royalty," he said.
Bega Cheese launched the B Honey brand just over 18 months ago - a brand that aims to give back to the beekeeping industry through initiatives like the Queen Bee Chariot and the Purple Hive Project, which is helping to protect honey bees from the threat of Varroa destructor arriving in Australia
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