Voice of Real Australia: Let that sweet honey flow, and the queens grow

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Our honey jars were not presented nearly as artfully as this one pictured here. Photo: File

Our honey jars were not presented nearly as artfully as this one pictured here. Photo: File

It's honey harvest time on the Blue Mountains bee 'farm' (full disclosure: just two hives, not actually a farm).

We've been reaping the fruits of our bees (who I've written about before in Voice of Real Australia) labour lately, with delicious jars of honey - the first batch harvested in mid-January.

We've sent jars to the neighbours, family and friends - seven and a half giant jars of delicious sticky honey so far.

And we are set to harvest another few frames of the sweet stuff in the next few days.

We are feeling mighty pleased with our bees efforts - especially given they started life surrounded by black burnt out bush (it's now vividly green).

But I recently learnt Australia is facing a queen bee shortage.

Having once bought a queen bee we understand how hard it is to find the ladies - despite a plethora of local beekeepers in the NSW Blue Mountains/Hawkesbury area around us we had to look further afield, getting ours from the NSW Central Tablelands.

And she arrived via Australia Post no less.

News of the queen bee shortage has made me start to wonder if there is a responsibility for hobby apiarists to use the knowledge of the local commercial guys, long-lifers and bee clubs, and start to grow queens to ensure the stability of the future of the industry.

In Albury on the NSW-Victorian border, Sarah Schmidt, is already doing her bit.

If you are a subscriber to the Border Mail, you can read all about her journey into beekeeping here, she's working to start a local bee club and is breeding queens already.

It's great to see, especially given bees are, after all, incredibly important not only in nature but for Australia's agricultural industry.

It has been estimated that one third of our crops rely on bee pollination - or a value of between $3 and $4 billion a year.

That's a lot of crops and if you're a big almond fan, you definitely want to pay heed - the annual migration of bees for the almond pollination has to be one of the biggest in the country.

Around 140,000 beehives are transported to pollinate 15 million almond trees across the country each year.

That's a lot of healthy queens needed for that event alone.

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