Interest in beekeeping is blooming in south east Queensland and northern New South Wales, leading Elders Stanthorpe to step up its support for emerging and established beekeepers.
Since Jason Traplin joined Elders in March this year, he’s been busy helping customers purchase hives and beekeeping supplies, pollen supplements and attractants.
But it’s not just about getting the right gear. Thanks to Jason’s background in a commercial honey production business, he is also playing an important supporting role for aspiring beekeepers as they build their knowledge and understanding of hive management.
“It’s my goal to make sure all our new beekeepers have the right information from the start, so they know what to expect and don’t have a bad run with it,” he said.
“There’s a lot of interest from people who want to set up a few hives for honey or early pollination in apples, but those few hives still need to be managed to high standards to protect against disease outbreaks across the industry.”
Elders Stanthorpe is hosting a bee information day on 10 August, to share information with local farmers and emerging and established beekeepers in the region.
Experienced beekeeper and queen bee breeder, Kevin Tracy, has been invited to speak about bee health, genetics, cleanliness and resistance to disease, followed by Jason Vella from OCP who will highlight ways to encourage better pollination in apple orchards. Will Armstrong from Ecrotek is also on the program to provide an overview of their beekeeping gear.
Jason said the bee industry in Australia was facing significant challenges, including a major shortage of bees.
“Times have been tough for beekeepers through recent droughts, which meant travelling further to find flowers and keep producing honey, and after that we had the fires which hurt a lot of professional beekeepers,” he said.
One of the biggest pollination jobs for commercial beekeepers is in almonds each winter in Victoria and South Australia, with hives coming from as far away as Queensland to meet the demand. Locally, apple growers also require pollination services to ensure a bumper crop.
Jason said some growers were looking to manage a few hives themselves to cover early flowering before bringing in four to five hives per hectare during peak flowering.
He expects the recent excellent seasonal conditions in south east Queensland to make apple pollination more challenging this year, with bees likely to be drawn outside orchards to the abundance of nectar and pollen in local flowering gums and ironbarks.
“Bees will travel up to five kilometres from the hive, so this could be the year for pollination aids like APIS Bloom to keep bees active and in the orchard for longer,” he said.
“It’s also essential that anyone with a hive is keeping it clean and managing for diseases, especially when commercial pollination services are in the area.”
Jason Traplin, Elders Stanthrope.
While the Australian industry has so far avoided Varroa mite, there are a number of other diseases which can be deadly to bees and devastating to commercial beekeepers, such as American foulbrood and European foulbrood, chalkbrood, wax moth and hive beetle.
Jason hopes the upcoming bee information day will help foster a stronger community among beekeepers and farmers in the region.
“It’s important for new beekeepers to get the right mentors when they start, because it’s very hard to learn everything yourself without someone to turn to when issues come up,” he said.
“I know there are beekeepers in the region looking forward to the day – it’s a good time of year for them as they have their bees wintered down, so this is a good opportunity to catch up with others in the industry.”
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