Hand-Feeding Australian Bees to Survive Winter
There has been an ongoing drought in New South Wales that is making it hard, if not impossible, for bees to make honey. So, beekeepers are resorting to unusual tactics.
Some honey producers, like Deb McLaughlin’s business in Bowral, Southern Highlands, set the business aside for now and are focused on trying to keep their bees alive through the winter.
Hand-feeding the bees with a blend of water and caster sugar is helping them create a small amount of honey for their own survival.
More bleak news is that the drought is causing eucalyptus plants to stop producing nectar. This is seriously affecting the local bees.
According to Ms. McLaughlin, things have been going downhill for a while. The last good honey harvest two years ago, and her reserve supply has run out.
She indicated that Australia is in a bee and honey crisis, with honey yields down 70% in South Australia. She expects the price of honey will rise due to the shortage and difficulties.
When local cafes, restaurants and chefs contact her, she is unable to provide the honey they want to buy. Like local chef Stephen Santucci, who likes to use the Southern Highlands honey in his dishes because he wants to provide local flavor to his patrons.
Denis Garbutt, a resident of nearby Bundanoon, has seen the situation deteriorate over 25 years and believes climate change is causing warmer winters. The grey gum trees and iron barks are not flowering due to the drought, so bees have less nectar to forage.
Big honey producers are having to walk away, but small producers are feeding their bees to help them survive. No bees, no crops, no humans.
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