BEEKEEPERS in Bendigo say they’re being stung by the Department of Sustainability and Environment’s forest-thinning operation that’s clearing trees they rely on for nectar and pollen.
A number of local apiarists have called on the DSE to protect nectar-producing species in the box ironbark forest.
Commercial beekeeper Lintt Taylor said that during the recent firewood collection season, rare summer and autumn flowering ironbark trees had been cut down, and more were under threat.
He said the trees were crucial to his business and the future of honey production in the region.
“The DSE have thinned it severely,” he said.
“They’re cutting rare trees that take years to grow back and there is no consideration for the people who rely on the trees for their industry.”
Mr Taylor said areas of the Wellsford State Forest, near Epsom, which he leases from DSE, were essential to his honey and beeswax production, as well as to pollination services.
“If they continue to destroy the area as significantly as they have done it will damage the whole industry,” he said.
DSE north west land and fire regional manager Scott Falconer said the thinning operation was designed to remove smaller, unhealthy or “suppressed” trees while retaining larger, healthier trees.
He said the DSE and DPI were in discussions with apiarists regarding their concerns about summer and autumn-flowering box ironbark trees in Wellsford forest.
“Box ironbark forests around Bendigo have been successfully managed for both beekeeping and small-scale timber production for many years and we expect this to continue into the future,” Mr Falconer said.
But Mr Taylor said the trees’ removal would have long-term economic consequences for the beekeeping industry, as well as farmers who needed their crops pollinated.
At least 65 per cent of our foods rely on bees for pollination.
Mr Taylor said he and other apiarists would consider appealing to the state government to have Wellsford forest protected.
The state government said it did not have any plans to establish the forest as a national park.