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Weather conditions prove sweeter than honey for producers:
We had a really good winter because it was so warm. — Rick Jensen
CYCLONE Debbie may have brought destruction all over Queensland in March, but it’s given the honey industry its best season since the 1970s.
Kingaroy beekeeper Rick Jensen said a warm winter and the rain from Cyclone Debbie had helped in honey production.
“We’ve had a pretty good winter because of the cyclone,” Mr Jensen said.
“If we hadn’t had the cyclone, we would have had a very bad time.
“Even now we are still reaping the rewards from the cyclone, rain is a good thing for bees long term.
“Because some trees bud and flower every year and some only bud and flower every three years or five years, so there is a lot of that weather, we are lucky we can take our hives out to wherever the rain is.”
Mr Jensen runs about 860 hives and migrates them all over Queensland.
He has been a beekeeper for 20 years and said other beekeepers who had been in the game longer than him had not seen a season like this one since the 1970s.
“We had a really good winter because it was so warm,” he said.
“There had been rain and the bees just didn’t really have a winter as it was so warm and wet, it dried out towards the end, but it was wet in the early winter so we had a record winter for honey production.”
Mr Jensen has had to make some changes to where he takes his bees as it has been incredibly dry in many parts of Queensland.
“We normally go to the channel country for the winter but it’s so dry out west that we couldn’t do that, and they haven’t had rain out there. If we get rain in out there we will go back,” he said,
“There are lots of variables in bee- keeping, just like any primary producer.”
Mr Jensen said a beekeeper might be lucky to see a season as good as this in a lifetime.
“The cyclone was an incredible thing, it was dry and the trees really responded to the wet,” he said.
“We don’t really understand it all, we’re not full on botanist.”
Mr Jensen said there had been a lot more demand for pollination because of a decrease in bee populations.
“There has been a decrease, a lot of people don’t see bees in their garden anymore and that’s from the African hive beetle, it came back in the late ‘ 90s and took out a lot of unmanaged hives,” he said.
“A couple of years back in the southern states there was a need for pollination, if a bee doesn’t visit the flower they don’t get an almond, there is bees going from Queensland down to the almonds in South Australia.”
Mr Jensen said avocados relied on pollination and because demand was high, more trees were being planted.
ALL ABUZZ: Beekeeper Rick Jensen with his father Derek.