Victorian honey producers suffer dry conditions

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APIARISTS around central and northern Victoria have experienced the worst season in over 30 years due to summer’s hot weather conditions.

Victorian Apiarists’ Association Bendigo Branch secretary Eileen McDonald said honey producers around the region were struggling after the record-breaking summer.

“It’s probably the worst season we’ve encountered since the 1982 drought,” she said.

The Castlemaine apiarist said there would be no relief for honey producers through an increase in the price of honey, which she expects to remain stable.

“Because last season was a very good season as far as honey production, we think there should be enough stock in the packaging companies’ hands and there won’t be a huge increase in price,” she said.

She said central Victorian honey producers were finding bee numbers were not regenerating because of the lack of nectar in plants.

Mrs McDonald said they had been feeding their bees sugar syrup and a pollen supplement, placing water nearby the hives and moving the hives to more fertile areas in an attempt to keep the queen bee laying eggs.

But she said smaller and less developed bee production businesses may not have the means to ensure bee numbers regenerate. 

“The whole system is that the queen lays the egg and the bees develop. 

“If nourishment is not there, that has to stop and numbers dwindle, which means there’s less honey.

“It’s the people with smaller numbers of hives which are really struggling. 

“It’s made life a little bit more stressful.”

But Mrs McDonald remained optimistic that things will improve. 

“After a drought it always rains. There’s always next season. 

“We’ll come through this and things will get better.”

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