THE head of the region’s biggest honey producer was lamenting the impact of the ongoing drought and recent hot conditions on her businesses productivity.
Vicki Lockwood, managing director of Goldfields Honey at Vittoria, said hot weather is affecting the enterprise’s output via a shortage of pollen and nectar.
“Normally in our area we do not have such extreme heat for so long, and it is putting the bees under stress,” Ms Lockwood said.
“We are receiving some rain, but as it is so hot the moisture is drying up before the root systems of the plants get any benefit.
These drought conditions cause little or no production of honey and maintaining bees in optimum condition for pollination is very stressful.Vicki Lockwood, managing director of Goldfields Honey
“Therefore there is no pollen and nectar.”
Ms Lockwood said this was not the first time beekeepers had gone through such testing weather, “but it has been many, many years since we had such an extended period of extreme heat”.
With the Orange region has sweltered through heatwaves in the past month – temperatures have approached 40 degrees Celsius at times – there has been talk that beehives were melting and bees were developing with deformed wings.
Ms Lockwood said Goldfields Honey hadn’t had any hives melt.
“But in other areas where the heat is more intense, the hives can break down as the bees can’t regulate the temperature of the beehive and this affects the brood,” she said.
MAP: Where is Goldfields Honey located …
“These drought conditions cause little or no production of honey and maintaining bees in optimum condition for pollination is very stressful.”
The issues were not exclusive to the Orange region, with other Central West producers suffering downturns.
Ross Christiansen, the director of Forbes-based Superbee Honey Factory, said his supplies from local honey producers had fallen by a third.
“This is because in a couple of hundred kilometres from Forbes there is not much flowering going on,” Mr Christiansen said.
“So there is nothing for bees to collect. Beekeepers are going further afield to find flowering crops to put their bees on.”
Mr Christiansen said it was the first time in the past 11 years they had seen this shortfall, and he was getting supplies from other parts of NSW and also Queensland.
“The demand has also deteriorated since the news about the adulterated honey,” he said.
“We believe in some areas, sales have gone down by 30 per cent.”
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