Central West beekeepers are going through a rough patch as a result of the severe drought and ongoing hot conditions across the region.
Vicki Lockwood, the managing director of the largest honey producer in the region, Goldfields Honey, says hot weather is affecting their bees.
“Normally in our area we do not have such extreme heat for so long and it is putting the bees under stress,” Ms Lockwood said.
Normally in our area we do not have such extreme heat for so long and it is putting the bees under stress.Vicki Lockwood
“We are receiving some rain in the form of storms and showers, but as it is so hot the moisture is drying up before the root systems of the plants get any benefit.
“So therefore there is no pollen and nectar.”
Ms Lockwood said this was not the first time beekeepers had gone through such testing weather.
“But it has been many, many years since we had such an extended period of extreme heat,” she said.
The Central West has had at least three heatwaves in the past month and the temperatures in some parts have been in the mid-40s. Some towns have also recorded new high minimum temperatures.
There has been talk that beehives are melting because of the hot weather and bees are developing with deformed wings.
Ms Lockwood said Goldfields Honey hadn’t had any hives melt.
“But in other areas where the heat is more intense, the hives can break down as the bees can’t regulate the temperature of the beehive and this affects the brood,” she said.
“These drought conditions cause little or no production of honey and maintaining bees in optimum condition for pollination is very stressful.”
Ross Christiansen, the director of Forbes-based Superbee Honey Factory, said his supplies from local honey producers have fallen by one-third.
“This is because in a couple of hundred kilometres from Forbes there is not much flowering going on,” Mr Christiansen said.
“So there is nothing for bees to collect. Beekeepers are going further afield to find flowering crops to put their bees on.”
Mr Christiansen said it was the first time in the past 11 years they had seen this shortfall and he is getting supplies from other parts of NSW and also Queensland.
“The demand has also deteriorated since the news about the adulterated honey,” he said.
“We believe in some areas, sales have gone down by 30 per cent.”
These drought conditions cause little or no production of honey and maintaining bees in optimum condition for pollination is very stressfulVicki Lockwood
Yetholme beekeeper Malcolm Porter says beekeepers should place their beehives close to a river, dam or creek and under a tree or in another form of shade.
“One has to keep beehives cool once the temperature crosses 40 degrees,” Mr Porter, a fourth-generation beekeeper, said.