Logging and burning is jeopardising honey production

Western Australian honey is in demand all over the world, because of our disease free, food safe, pollution free status. 80% of our WA honey comes from the State forests. The pollens in these flowers are very good nutritionally which results in healthy bees. These bees will play an integral part in the pollination of crops currently performed by feral bees which will be wiped out by disease like varroa mite. The industry as a whole is trying to develop medicinal types of honey which if progressed creates a high economic value to the states economy. It also provides health benefit to the community. There are approx. 200 Jarrah sites with a potential value of $30million in a flowering year (usually a biennial crop). It can take 25-30yrs from seed to blossom for a mature Jarrah tree to produce the honey required to replace logged trees. A 200yo jarrah will produce far more nectar than a 30yo one as they have finished growing and will put their energy into reproducing not foliage. Other trees that our industry relies upon are Marri (Redgum), Blackbutt, Bull Banksia , Dryandra and newly discovered species of leptospermum(WA Manuka). Logging of these forests is not sustainable. When a beekeeper clears a path to a bee site minimal disruption is caused to the environment. Our footprint is extremely low yet we leave behind a pollinated good healthy living forest. As we work bush land and forests we don’t have contamination issues that are plaguing the rest of the world opening up unique marketing opportunities.
Following a difficult start to the year with the destruction of jarrah sites during the Waroona fire, the industry is hoping to get honey out of jarrah this year. As a biennial crop which is due to flower this year, jarrah honey is a rarer and more sought-after product than some of the state’s more reliable Eucalypt crops.
It also has the same, if not better, medicinal qualities that make it a highly desirable product. Jarrah honey is high in antioxidants, does not crystallise for long periods of time due to its low glucose, high fructose content and, being a dark honey, it is favoured by a lot of overseas consumers.
However, this high value added income could be put in further jeopardy due to the logging of forests and burning of apiary sites.
In Western Australia, a jarrah crop can produce up to 500 tonnes, which translates to a figure in the vicinity of a $7.5 million farmgate price. On a business level, the loss of the jarrah honey crop this year could cost local businesses in excess of $500,000 in honey production alone.
Beekeeping is one of the most sustainable industries, but by constantly burning and logging this resource, the State Government is jeopardising a growing, important and valuable industry.