The Roebig Family spoke to our Australian editor about their hot honey. Let’s get to know them.
What is your real name?
Jason, Natasha & Miranda Roebig
So that we can identify your products, can you describe your logo to us, is there a story behind it – how did it come about?
Our main logo for Bee All Natural is of a bee within two gumtrees, if you look closely you will see that the gumtrees form the shape of Australia. Both my wife and I came up with this idea when we where out in the back paddock enjoying a beer as the sun went down. Just at that exact moment we could see the shape of Australia in the tree branches with an incredible sunset behind it and we both looked at each other and said “That’s It!, that’s our logo”.
Our sister brand 3 Stings logo came about due to an unfortunate event, I had just finished doing some housekeeping on some of our hives, it was ridiculously hot and I had to cut some grass around the hives. I was pushing the mower when I saw a stick on the ground, I bent over to pick it up when my trusty pants tore, just at that moment three bees have made there way up my pants and stung my on the “Bells”……it was immensely painful and something I will never forget……it seemed only fitting that our Ridiculously Hot Honey be called 3 Stings, tasting 3 Stings Honey is extremely painful and something you will never forget!.
Tell us, what were the biggest challenges you faced to get your products/brand where they are today?
The biggest challenge for us was the amount of competition in the honey industry, there are a lot of honey sellers out there ranging from backyard beekeepers through to commercial operations who all compete in the same market. We faced immense challenges gaining credibility with customers and stockists as both my wife and I do not fit the mould of a beekeeper, lets be honest when you think of a beekeeper you think of an elderly gentleman in his bee suit and smoker working a bee hive, we are most certainly not that. We are a family operation with my wife Natasha and myself being the beekeepers and our 7-year-old daughter our beekeeper in training. We where also considered pariahs within the honey industry when we started to infuse our honey with spices and fruits, this started a whole new product line which made us stand out from the rest. We continued to innovate and diversify our products which has had significant success both domestically and internationally. Our 3 Stings Honey has also taken on a life of its own!
When did you become involved in chilli life, were you born into it, or what did you do before? Where did your passion for chilli growing stem from?
Our chilli life started a few years ago when we investigated making a chilli infused honey, through trial and error we discovered that super hots where the only chillies that we could use that would generate enough heat and flavour to complement the sweetness of honey. Initially we went to the shops and purchased some chillies and fell over backwards at the cost. We thought there had to be another way, after searching around on the internet we came across a Facebook group called “The Chilli Market Place”. Very quickly we got to speaking to a few people in the group and the knowledge and help that was offered was amazing. Rob Webb, Adrian Zocaro, Don Jolokia and many, many more became good friends and have mentored us in growing our very own chilli plants.
Since that day, what major changes have taken place in the business and were they strategic, commercial or enforced for reasons geological, cultural, ethical, ecological, political for example?
In a very short period of time we have had astronomical success with our infused honey ranges, so much so we are now known across the honey and chilli industries for these products. By consumer demand we have had to expand our 3 Stings range to have 4 different variants just to make sure we had something for everyone. We have also forged strong business relationships with chilli growers which has enabled us to break into the hotly contested chilli product industry. The integral business relationship and friendship has been with Adrian Zocaro from Firing Line Gourmet Chilli, without his collaboration our sister brand 3 Stings would never have been possible.
Do you know how many varieties of chillies have you guys produced this year?
Sadly, where we are based we are in a devasting drought, last year we had over 75 different varieties of chillies however with minimal water being available we have had to cut that down to a mere 10 varieties. In saying that the ten that we have kept are all super hots and ensure that we can keep making our chilli infused honey.
In the past year we would have used in the vicinity of 1600kg of superhot chillies for our chilli infused honey, from that 1600kg we have made nearly 2.5t of the “civilised” chilli infused honey. The 3 Stings honey range has made approx. 350 vials and have been sent all over the world.
Is there a species you’ve tried to produce but are yet to master?
Anything white seems to be a challenge for me, fortunately I have some expert growers around me that I can call on for help
What is the most popular product you have?
In the chilli world I would have to say our Chilli, Chocolate Creamed Honey has been our run-away success however our 3 Stings Ridiculously Hot Honey “Entry Level” and the recently released a “Just No!” level has been selling out as soon as we make it.
Do you enjoy chilli yourself? Which is your favourite a) to eat and b) to grow?
I do like chilli however I am pretty soft in comparison to others, I love Habaneros. The taste profile and heat of a good Hab is divine especially in a sauce! I would have to say my favourite variety to grow is the Black Panther simply because the different colourings you can get are incredible.
Who are the people behind the company, tell us a bit about your team, who they are and what they do.
We accidentally started our business out of necessity, we stumbled into the world of honey and bees about seven years ago when our daughter, Miranda, 7, was born and diagnosed with the chronic skin condition eczema.
To treat her condition we were forced to use steroid creams which thinned her skin, caused her hair to fall out and gave her debilitating stomach pains. So we started to look for natural alternatives and after consulting our doctor and a naturopath, researched the health benefits of beeswax and raw honey and bought a hive.
We then developed a body balm using the honey and beeswax harvested from our hives and Miranda’s skin started to improve.
What started as a necessity to produce honey and beeswax for the body balm soon grew into an exciting hobby with the honey we were getting out of the hive — the best we had ever tasted.
It was not long before we began selling their products at markets and the response from our customers was incredible.
In 2016, we decided to launch Bee All Natural and increase our hive numbers. Over the course of the next two years we have diversified our range to include infused creamed honey and infused raw honey products. Our most successful infusion by far would be our chilli infusions!
Even though our business has had continued success, we have not forgotten where we came from. Natasha and I still hand make all of our products in our commercial kitchen with Miranda being our quality control officer…if she does not like it, the product never makes it to the shelf. Strangely enough Miranda liked the 3 Stings Honey too, admittedly its was not as hot as we make it today.
Have you got any exciting plans for 2020, new campaigns, investment
2020 is unchartered waters for us, our business is growing but sadly with the drought our bees are struggling, we are down almost 80% honey yield compared to this time last year and with no end in sight for the drought we are preparing for an even harder season next year.
2020 will be a year of us mentoring and educating anyone who is willing to learn about bees and their significance to our agricultural sector, fortunately chillies do not rely on bees for pollination but the many other fruits and vegetables that are used in chilli sauces and products do need the bees to be able to produce.
We do have a new product line that we are looking to launch which is an infusion of traditional Australian native fruits and spices and our raw honey.
Other than chilli, what’s your favourite ingredient to work with?
That’s an easy one…. HONEY
Have you got any funny chilli stories?
Other than how the sister brand name was created, I am sure many of my stories around chilli would be the same for your readers……. forgetting that you handled super hots and then touching a part of your body that does not play well with chilli.
What was the last thing you ate that blew your head off?
Taste testing the final instalment of the 3 Stings Range “Game Over” this stuff is insane!!!!!
There are loads of amazing artisan chilli sauces out there (and some real mass-produced crap), which ones do you like and why?
To be honest I love the artisan sauce makers, many of them I have met at chilli festivals as fellow stall holders. I would have to say that Firing Line Gourmet Chilli Sauces are incredible (The whole range) as well as anything that comes out of his smoker, Sabarac and Chillis Gold Coast also produce some of my favourite sauces as well!!
I love small batch sauce makers, the care and attention they give to their products is truly carried through to their products and something that I can relate to and appreciate.
Have you fulfilled your chilli dream or are there more things you want from your products?
My chilli dream is to have our 3 Stings Honey Range reviewed by some famous international chilli connoisseurs, as arrogant as this may sound, we want to be known as the Beekeepers who produced the hottest honey in the world!
Do you have other flavours or ideas in the pipeline?
We have a few chilli ideas that we are collaborating on at the moment, hoping to have something out for customers to taste early next year. We are also about to release a honey range (non-chilli) that incorporates traditional Australian bush tucker with honey, and no it’s not witchitty grubs. We are using the fruits and spices that were used by the traditional land holders for thousands of years as health remedies and incorporating that into raw bush honey.
Briefly, where can we find your product?
Do you visit any chilli festivals? Which chilli event is your favourite?
We attend as many Chilli Festivals as we can, to name a favourite is hard as they all have their own individual highlights. If I was to name my top three in no particular order it would be Murphy’s Creek Chilli Festival, Chillogan, Briz Chillifest. We are attending the Chinderah Chilli Festival and the Ignite Chilli Festival next year for the first time which we are excited about.
What advice could you offer someone wanting to make their own sauces?
Be creative, try different things. As much as its about getting heat into a sauce it is also about the flavour. Be prepared to make mistakes but don’t be defeated by them.
Has anyone famous ever tried your products, where did it happen and what did they think?
We have had a few MasterChef’s taste our honey at festivals with Poh using our honey in her cook book, we have had an international Michelin Star Chef (Bruno Loubet) use our honey in a signature dish.
We have also had a Prince from UAE come to our shop in Jimboomba and taste our honey, he then proceeded to buy every last jar we had on our shelves which he took back to his palace in Dubai (he sent us a photo of our honey in his palace but sadly he did not give us permission to use it), he still continues to buy our honey to this day.
Milk or Beer?
Salad or roast?
BBQ sauce or Ketchup?
Kylie or Metallica?
Habanero or Scotch Bonnet?
Bottle or Jar?
Peri-Peri or Piri-piri?
korma or vindaloo?
Romantic meal for 2 or big family feast?
Romantic meal for 2
Food festival or music festival?