Honey and our bees
Rocklily is in a temperate climate, so beekeeping is a whole new ballgame compared to our years in Sydney. With our move to Rocklily we have left a few hives with relatives in Sydney as a winter move is not on for the bees. Sadly they swarmed and ran away to better pickings in Sydney.
March 2022 Despite planting hundred's of flowering plants and trees after the bushfire of December 2019 And constant feeding of bees, our bees have left their hive this month for greener pastures. We have had months and months of rain washing out nectar and pollen from flowers, its been an incredibly hard 12 moths of wet here, summer 20-21 we had 3 trees flower this year no gums flowered .
We will continue our 'nectar tress' and plants planting and look to spring to consider getting more bee's its the first time in over 20 years we have had no bees. We do notice very few native bee's after the fires and were hopeing these will build up, many species like the blue banded bee that lives in holes in the ground have not been seen since the fires.
March 2018 Sees at least one hive again at Rocklily doing well, it’s been here 2 summers and we have had a dry summer and bee’s have built up a great store of honey. We are leaving this for their second winter for their food as we. Were hoping to get ourselves organised with a couple more hives renovated and ready over ready for more bee’s. This winter also see’s us after clearing planting more bee friendly food near the hive’s and around the place so there is always food. Trick is wallabys eat so much we nave to find what they do not like!
With such a late summer we got 16kg from the hive on a warm day leaving a full super as well as the brood box full of honey and pollen. Tasty mixed flower, tea tree and a hint of lavender.
Finally again we have caught a swam and start again with bee keeping, just in a standard hive and we think we have the best winter/ summer location for them.
We have been seriously looking at some alternative styles of hives, and with the hope of another swam or 2 we will get ourselves sorted with it all ready for winter.
New beekeepers apparently lose about 50% of their hives, we have done slightly better than that thankfully. Our beekeeper friends are all in Sydney and we really needed advice from cold climate beekeepers. It’s all a big learning curve, and truly fascinating. We know we have a number of large wild honey bee hives around too—we think one’s in a really big ribbon gum—as well as a good range of native bees, such as blue-banded and teddy bear to name a couple.
We have had a few hives here. Being absent has meant we lost a few to ants and have just had a hive abscond in winter. We can only presume it was because their stored pollen supplies ran out; although there was lots of honey they absconded. However we still had enormous numbers of bees still working all the bee plants I’ve put in. The hive was empty 4-5 weeks and a huge swarm appeared and has settled in nicely, we have given them the top box that was almost full of honey.
We don’t use any chemicals or antibiotics, preferring to beekeep in an organic or ‘natural’ style.
If you have been lucky enough to buy our yummy honey, the money goes towards more plantings locally to keep the bees feed year around. There is a shortage of shrubs as the area has been grazed by sheep and cows for nearly 100 years!
We are really concerned about the amounts of pesticides used now. Pesticides coat seeds, and is then in the plant and the pollen—nectar is then poison to honey bees. There has been an really big decline in bee populations worldwide, with many factors contributing. But I think the worst factor is the hidden pesticides in everything we grow and eat.
Watch this documentary and you will look at the importance of honeybees in a new light—a thought-provoking look at just what we are doing to this planet.
For the other beekeepers out there, there are a couple of great sites I’d recommend. Belonging to organic beekeeping forums is also very useful—although international, there are more and more Aussies on them.
Neon Cuckoo Bee. The female neon cuckoo bee seeks out the burrow nests of the blue-banded bee (Amegilla cingulata), and lays an egg into a partly completed brood cell while it is unguarded. The larval cuckoo bee then consumes the larder and later emerges from the cell.