HOT, dry weather last spring and summer has led to a nationwide honey shortage.
The Beekeeper’s Inn at Vittoria, between Bathurst and Orange, is producing only half the honey it was 12 months ago.
Drought and bushfires in parts of Australia have wiped out many bees, and this has been coupled with a severe decline in available flower blossoms.
As it braces for reduced honey production, and subsequent income, Goldfields Honey, Bee and Pollination Services, which owns the Beekeeper’s Inn, says diversification will be imperative.
Owner Vicki Lockwood said the hot spring and summer has had a severe impact on honey production.
“It’s down 50 to 60 per cent this year,” she said.
“We’ve produced half the amount of honey that you usually would in a season and once it’s gone our income will be greatly affected.
“We have some stores, but it’s affected the availability of honey, and the price of honey will go up considerably over the next six months.”
Mrs Lockwood said less nectar is produced by plants during times of drought – and for Goldfields, less nectar means less honey.
“The severe heatwave meant any nectar we thought was in the flowers just dried up,” she said.
Mrs Lockwood said she was grateful they had begun to already diversify their business, and said it will be “key to our future”.
The historic Vittoria building, which was once the Cobb & Co Inn, also houses a brewery called 1859 which was launched five years ago. There is also a function centre, and the Beekeeper’s Inn can cater for weddings.
In past shortages, Gold-fields has been able to buy additional honey from across the country if required, but this current shortage is affecting producers nationwide.
Goldfields usually sends its bees across the Central West, as well as to NSW, Victoria and parts of Queens-land to source the best available nectars, but hot weather has wiped much of the nectar out.
Mrs Lockwood said Gold-fields’ beekeepers know which plants and trees are flowering over the next year or two, and will plan the hive distribution accordingly.
“The beekeeper is always a few years ahead of himself,” she said.
“Hives are put on a truck and trucked to wherever the flowers are.”
Bees can pollinate apple, cherry, plum and apricot crops, as well as lucerne, canola, pumpkin, watermelon, rockmelon, eucalypts and the weed Paterson’s curse.