Beekeeping industry still doing it tough

Beekeeping industry still doing it tough

News
Queensland beekeeper Murray Arkadieff with a hive on Stradbroke Island.

Queensland beekeeper Murray Arkadieff with a hive on Stradbroke Island.

Aa

Queensland honey production for 2021 is predicted to be down by half, as the beekeeping industry continues its recovery after drought and fire.

Aa

Queensland honey production for 2021 is predicted to be down by half compared to good years, as the beekeeping industry continues its recovery after drought and fire.

While parts of Queensland have received good rain over the past year, a large portion of bushland is still in recovery from drought and fires.

The shortage of bee food means beekeepers are still travelling big distances to find pollen and nectar, taking them away from their families.

Brisbane-based Murray Arkadieff's business has 1200 hives and operates within a 500 kilometre radius.

Mr Arkadieff, also the vice president of the Queensland Beekeepers Association, said the industry had been doing it tough since late 2018 due to the dry conditions.

"In 2019 a lot of guys' production was barely five percent," he said.

"For us honey production in 2019 was pretty much non-existent.

"This year we'll probably end up doing a third of what we normally would.

"It's mainly been pollination that's sustained the greater part of the industry."

Mr Arkadieff said apart from the drought, the effects of fire, even interstate, had a big effect on beekeepers looking to travel to sustain their hives.

"There's NSW's South Coast, which has stringybark and spotted gum... traditionally they would travel down there but it's been wiped out," he said.

"Floral resources can take 10 to 15 years to come back after big burns to it like that."

Mr Arkadieff said a shift in the weather was needed to revitalise the industry.

"We're just trying to hold on and keep the population alive," he said.

"It's all in the balance, we're going to be really hoping for a low pressure system."

Ben McKee is the chief operating officer for Hive + Wellness, the parent company for Capilano Honey. Mr McKee said 2020 was a tough year for the beekeeping industry, including in Queensland.

"Last year Queensland honey production was down 70 per cent and this year it's looking like 50 per cent," he said.

"We're still coming out of the drought and it just takes trees time to come back into flowering patterns and get some moisture in the ground.

"Some trees take a few years to come back and flower again."

Between 10 and 20 per cent of Capilano's honey comes from Queensland beekeepers, but the slow return of flowering to trees affected by dry conditions has seen many apiarists have to look further afield to sustain their bees.

"A lot of Queensland beekeepers went all the way to Victoria to find food in the dry," Mr McKee said.

"This year they may not go so far but they will certainly travel down into NSW and out to the Channel Country."

But it wasn't all bad news last year for Australian honey producers.

"Consumption obviously went up a bit because of COVID... honey's a good food to have, it doesn't go off and there are health benefits so we saw a spike in sales," Mr McKee said.

As the industry continues its slow recovery, Mr McKee said there would be a continuing focus on securing access to national parks.

The state government last year committed to extending national park access by 20 years to 2044, but Mr McKee said the industry wanted that access to be permanent to safeguard the industry's future.

"It wouldn't be a sustainable industry without that access," he said.

Beehives on Stradbroke Island.

Beehives on Stradbroke Island.

We love connecting with our readers and one way is through our daily newsletter, which delivers all the big ag news right to your inbox. Sign up here!

Aa

From the front page

Sponsored by