There is recent emergence of young and amateur beekeepers across Australia. In example, did you know that there is a beekeeping club for children? Yes, that’s right there is. Anita Long, previously a hairdresser turned apiarist started the Tasmania Junior Beekeepers that has over 80 members. The club is aimed to inspire the future of Australian beekeeping. Kids get a class or a briefing which usually includes informative sessions about bees and beekeeping basics. Kids love it and are very engaged! They meet at least once a month and kids get an experience of inspecting beehives, using hive tools and learning about bee’s behaviour. They also do bee-related activities and some has engaged in bee businesses. Some kids have started a beeswax wraps business and enjoy the fact that it is reusable and sustainable. Isn’t it amazing that these kids can continue the bee movement and saving our bees?
On the other side, WA has seen a rise in amateur apiarists due to increasing environmental concerns and awareness of the benefits of honey. Compared to a huge drop in registered beekeepers over a year ago, this year we have since seen an increase with a total number of 3,051 to date. Not to mention that that’s just Western Australia! However, most beginner beekeepers are not registered and don’t take training, workshops and advice, according to WAAS President, John Chadwick. This can indicate that the rise of numbers may also mean that there are many Australians that are unaware of biosecurity in beekeeping. This part is very sensitive and crucial for any beekeeper as Australia is the last continent free of major diseases and varroa mites. Varroa mites can destroy almost 80% of a bee population and as much as possible, we would like to maintain that status. The varroa mite has destroyed bee population in Asia, Europe and the US.
There is no news in regards to the end of the drought and it is reported to get event worse. Towns are running out of the water and small businesses dependent on agriculture is on the edge. Beekeeping may be one of the overlooked parts of the agriculture industry. A survey conducted showed at least 98% of respondents said they have found their honey production go zero. Could there be a potential honey shortage?
The drought has caused the lack of flowering trees which means beekeepers struggle to ensure that their bees have enough nectars to collect and sufficient amount of food. However, the scarcity of water source and the relentless heat affects bees and their honey production.
What can we do?
As the drought is drying up the land, most of our wildlife creatures experience scarcity in water. It is also good to remember that it is bushfire season and we need to cooperate and follow Total Fire Bans from where you are located. For bee’s, they do need water too! As beekeepers, we can help our bees collect water close to the hive. That way, the bees will stress less in finding water for their colony.
What do the bees exactly do with water? All living things need water! But for bees, they need water more so when the climate is too high. They use water to regulate the temperature and humidity in the hive. This ensures that developing bees won’t suffer in heat stress, or worse, die. This can affect the health of your hive, decrease in population and honey production.
Bees are not particularly picky when it comes to water. You want to make sure that the water source is uncontaminated that may cause negative effects on the bees and the hive’s health. Also, ensure you provide a bee-friendly space for them! Bees can drown when looking for water and ensure there is a proper place for them to stand or lay while collecting water.
For backyard beekeepers, you can start with using clean, empty containers or buckets at least less than a 100m away from your bees. You can get creative and re-use some areas such as an unused birdbath. You can put stones in the middle to create space for the bees to stand and prevent them from drowning. Make sure to check water levels and refill if it’s almost empty.
Bees tend to be drawn to water that has algae. With this, you can give them a mini bee pond! It does not have to elegant, however you can create this with a small container that has an adequate size and depth for you to be able to put floating plants which will serve as landing pads or stands for the bees. If accessible, you can set up a water circulation like a small fountain. However, refilling it from time to time is no harm! Ensure that the water does not have any contamination or decaying organic matter.
Do you have any other creative ideas? Let us know!
Hearing all about this news is devastating and we’re all about helping each other out, from one state to another. We introduced a drought pack that includes a Blue Top Feeder from Ceracell and a free Feedbee. Feedbee may not be as popular however it is attractive to bees. It is the most bee-friendly feeding supplement we have seen and it is a sight to see watching the bees eager to eat it. If you are not familiar with Feedbee, we have a blog about pollen supplements and substitutes here.
Feedbee can be used in different ways, depending on your preference. It is mostly recommended for making patties placed on waxed paper on top of brood frames, however for smaller hives you can use a squeeze bottle to place some on top of the frame bars. You will see bees moving and lining at the top of the bar to feed from the paste.
The drought pack is available Australia wide and it aims to support struggling beekeepers and to save the affected bees. Call or send us an email for more information, or if you are eager to try, you can order online here.
Thanks for reading!
Courtney, Pip. 2019. Landline. https://www.abc.net.au/landline/aspiring-apiarists:-australias-only-junior-bee/11666612
Eggleton, Mark. 2019. “NO END IN SIGHT FOR AUSTRALIA’S CRIPPLING DROUGHT”. https://www.nationalgeographic.com.au/australia/no-end-in-sight-for-crippling-drought.aspx
Frost, Elizabeth. 2019. “Honey bee water needs in hot weather”. https://www.theland.com.au/story/5897494/honey-bee-water-needs-in-hot-weather/