Across Australia, bees represent the biggest movement of livestock each year as they criss cross the country servicing orchards in need of pollination. This year the cost of a hive of bees to pollinate almond orchards is up about 25% on last year's prices. The reason is twofold - lose of bees of last summer's devastating bushfires and at the same time, a significant increase in the number of almond trees.
Reportedly, last summer's bushfires burned more than 10,000 bee hives as well as completely eliminating masses of native flowering forests. At the same time, orchards planted with almond trees increased 17 per cent between 2019 and 2020 to 53,014 hectares, with more than 15.4 million trees. While there are new self pollinating Almonds coming on line, traditional almond trees rely on bees for efficient pollination as wind pollination isn't enough. This requiring 130,000 hives across Australia’s major growing regions, mostly in Victoria, beginning in late July as the trees blossom.
Pollination services like almonds is a booming business and it gives beekeepers cash flow to assist the typically erratic honey making business and food for their bees. Biosecurity focus is high in Australia and we don't have the same pest issues as big almond producer, California which sees many hives lost each pollination season.
This rains in Queensland and New South Wales this year has meant that hives are young and healthy after prolonged droughts, potentially the healthiest they have been in some time. Growers and beekeepers are hoping this means a bumper 2021 almond crop.
Images: Beechworth Honey / The Weekly Times