Sticky situation

WA beekeepers are experiencing one of the worst seasons on record for the honey business.

Producers say they have been getting as little as one teaspoon of honey from beehives.

Honey production in Australia is worth more than $100 million annually.

Busy bees at work. Photo: Cody Robinson.

Bees produce the most honey in a warm and sunny environment.

With Perth’s climate perfectly suiting this, honey production is a big industry.

However, WA beekepers have been left confused as to why this season isn’t what they hoped.   

The House of Honey specialises in selling raw, pure and unpasteurised honey in Perth.

The honey is extracted straight from their beehives, which are moved each night depending on the availability of nectar.

The House of Honey Head Beekeeper Rupert Phillips says the dry season has been difficult for the business.

“We are not producing the honey to be able to sell.

“It’s already been difficult to sell honey as it is in the current climate with COVID restrictions and lockdown and we have been lucky to keep going.”

Commercial beekeepers typically migrate their hives up the coast during the winter and early spring to take advantage of the blooming wildflowers that can set them up for the rest of the year.

However, Mr Phillips says it was a very average season all across the state.

“We were all expecting things to pick up during the year, but they didn’t.

“We had a very dry October and didn’t have any rainfall when we normally do.

“That coupled with the fact that we had such hot easterly winds, which went for days and days on end meant all the blooms fell off or dried up.”

Mr Phillips says beekeepers are travelling as far as the Goldfields to help their bees survive.

Beekeepers are having to feed their bees with sugar to ensure they survive.

However, this can be expensive and is not a long term solution.

Mr Phillips says prescribed burns are another major cause of the difficult season.

“If they burn the Jarrah Forest we find that we can’t use that forest for another four years minimum.

“If it’s on the coastal plain sometimes it’s up to 10 years before the vegetation regrows.”

The Bee Industry Council of Western Australia say it is advocating for the state government to change its approach to formula prescribed burns which have can have a major impact on fauna.

“Things are picking up a bit now because we had a bit of rain in the autumn but we are just hoping for lots of rain and waiting for early winter or late spring to happen,” says Mr Philips.

Graphic: Paige Busher.

Categories: Business, Environment

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