Spotlight | Hayley & Roger Mason, Settler Hives
backyard beekeepers with a budding empire
Let us introduce you to Hayley and Roger Mason, the entrepreneurial couple behind Settler Hives.
Hayley and Roger fell head over heels for beekeeping while living on a blueberry farm in Canada (as you do), and promptly set up a new hive when they moved back to Toowoomba last year. And so began the idea for Settler Hives, a beautifully-packaged selection of bee-nurturing seeds, that brings the idea full circle. The brand is already thriving, and the couple are starting to see their vision of a lifestyle-business come to life. And they’re exactly the sort of people who deserve it.
We met up with Hayley, Roger and two-year-old Scarlett at their home recently to talk all things business, beekeeping and breakfast. (And to convince them to become our friends…)
Name: Hayley & Roger Mason
Occupation: Roger is a builder, and they run Settler Hives together
Known For: flower seeds that bees love!
Born: Hayley – Toowoomba, Roger – Buderim
Locals (Again) Since: October 2017
first things first: why toowoomba?
We both grew up in Toowoomba. We actually lived 14 houses away from each other. (I counted when I was thirteen haha I’m a year older than Roger). We lived in Brisbane for 8-9 years after school and got married there in 2009.
One year, we decided to go travelling in North America in a motorhome and then head to Europe for summer. What started as a four month getaway ended up being nine. It was epic. We ended living in a cabin house in the woods of Northern Alberta with snow 1.2m high and lows of -40!
The year we moved to Canada we chose a small town called Abbotsford in British Columbia – an hour west of Vancouver and just 10 minutes from the US border of Washington. We renovated a three story barn to live in on a relative’s blueberry farm and came back when our visas ran out after 2.5 years.
We chose to come back to Toowoomba because we owned an investment house here. And the Queenslander cottage we bought had our names on it to fix up!
What is Settler Hives?
Settler Hives is, right now, a collection of seeds. We chose these seeds especially because bees love them!
We have two beehives in our backyard – we love keeping them and learning about them and sharing that. And we also love eating and want to encourage others to plants flowers and foods that bees will visit. It’s all about the full circle.
As to the name, Settler by definition is a group of people with the same interest in an area. It’s also another word for colony and you know how we like our bee colonies. ;)
What have you noticed about returning to toowoomba?
Toowoomba feels a little exotic right now. Coming back after so long, it’s neat to see and feel the change and growth of the town! We’re proud of what happened since we’ve been gone. All the new pockets of dining spots and great shops popping up with great taste. It’s a people magnet, and that energy is contagious.
The challenge for us is how far away it is from the beach! Like, if you’re living in Australia, how are we not on the beach front?!
What does an average day look like for you both?
Roger is up at 4.30am, and on site by 6.00am! If I’m lucky Scarlett will just be waking up when he walks out the door asking for ‘bix!’ (Can you guess her breakfast of choice?)
Scarlett and I hang out, watering the garden, packing our seed orders, and always go for a walk (these days often to the downtown post office) or a bike ride.
When Roger gets home around 5.00pm, we have tea on the deck to unwind, and usually get a start on some project we’re hoping to tick off the list – building a new bee super, for example, or fixing a piece of furniture for the house.
What does your ideal Toowoomba weekend look like?
Cutting the grass (literally – Scarlett doesn’t mind being on the scissors), sharing our coffees on the stairs watching the bees, and delicious snake bites from The Baker’s Duck just down the road.
Only a Toowoomba local would know…
Piccolo Papa’s deep fried haloumi (!!!!!) Drool! Oh, and the banana honey milkshake.
FAVOURITE WEEKEND SPOT TO:
PERK UP: walk down town together and grab some Guzman Y Gomez for an easy dinner sitting on the Grand Central steps at sunset
RELAX: stroll up to the Queens Park Botanic Gardens
EAT: the Sushi Train on Victoria Street at Grand Central
INDULGE: Sofra Turkish Cuisine
SHOP: Harold’s, for sure
CATCH UP: Burrow Café (have you had their ricotta pancakes?)
BE INSPIRED: our local monthly bee club meets!