Ever since he was a short-sighted kid, before he had glasses, the tiny world of invertebrates was what Dr Tim Heard's eyes were drawn too.
Over time that developed into an interest in bees, particularly of the native variety and continued as a focus during his 25 years as a research scientist with the CSIRO.
"Personally, the fact that you can open a hive and dive into this other world has always fascinated me. It's like stepping through Alice's looking glass," Tim said.
Look inside a native bee hive:
On Tuesday he was in Missabotti sharing the secrets of native bees to a rapt group of 40 participants at a workshop organised by local bee experts, Trudi and Steven Hayes of Little Star Bee Sanctuary.
"We are thrilled to have Tim here again - our last workshop was not even six months ago but the demand is really there," Trudi said.
"People want to know where their food comes from and they understand that pollination is the key."
Read more about Little Star:
Tim agrees and says that while it might seem the buzz around bees and beekeeping has been exponential in recent years, for him it has been more of a steady increase over decades.
"The other thing about bees is that anyone can do it … it is a very easy way to have pets and also connect with the natural world, which we all crave," he said.
He said bees were a way of being part of the solution, countering the gloomy picture of the state of the world and the environment.
And the beauty of the native bees is they don't sting.Dr Tim Heard
For participant Kathryn Wood (retired Dorrigo Rainforest Centre manager) the opportunity to spend a day with Dr Heard locally was a treat.
Find out more about Dr Heard and native bees
"Tim is so well-renowned so it is really great to spend time with him, I have learnt so much," Kathryn said.
"It is also fascinating to see the diversity of people who are into native bees … they are such important pollinators for our forests and also for commercial crops such as macadamias.
"And that kilo of honey that you can harvest annually is really powerful stuff, packed full of antimicrobial punch."