Broadwater beekeeper Alistair Maloney holds the contents of one of his bee hives.
Broadwater beekeeper Alistair Maloney holds the contents of one of his bee hives. JERAD WILLIAMS

Beekeepers hoping for fine weather

ALISTAIR and Dave Maloney are praying for a week or two of fine weather to save this year’s yield of medicinal honey.

The father and son beekeeping team work 400 hives off Jelly Bush plants on their Broadwater property.

Mr Maloney senior, who has been beekeeping for 50 years, said 254mm of rain had fallen on the property since Sunday.

“They have a flowering period which lasts about six weeks,” Mr Maloney said.

“They have been flowering for three weeks already, so we’re hoping and praying for some fine weather.

“If we get one fine week with temperatures of between 27 and 35 degrees, then we’ll get a crop of honey.”

There are more than 85 known species of Jelly Bush, or Leptospermum polygalifolium, and 83 of them grow in Australia.

Mr Maloney said it was a valuable honey that was also known as ‘Australia’s Manuka’.

Manuka is native to New Zealand.

“In medicinal terms, it destroys bad bacteria,” Mr Maloney said.

“It’s used by the medical industry, as well as vets, and it’s great for healing horse wounds.”

Mr Maloney said this season would be his most difficult in 15 years.

He said his bees worked macadamia trees last week, but the rain had washed a lot of thehoney from the flowers and the yield was only half of what heexpected.

But the affable apiarist rem-ains positive.

“My hardest year, besides this one, was about 15 years ago when we had a wet winter and spring/summer,” he said.

“But then the following year it was good because of all the rain.

“Seasons come in cycles and it will be disappointing if we do lose this crop, but I try to look at the positive side.

“The last three years have been quite good.”

Mr Maloney started beekeeping at Woodburn High School.

He grew up on a dairy farm and has worked with beef cattle, sug-arcane and vegetables.

He said while he found beekeeping the most challenging of the primary industries he had worked in, he loved it.

“I love the lifestyle,” Mr Maloney said.

“It’s rewarding. When you come to a hive and you see it full of honey and the bees are starting to put honey comb into the lid, that’s a really happy sight for a beekeeper.”

Geoff Manning, secretary of the North Coast branch of the NSW Apiarist Association, said he estimated honey yields across the Northern Rivers would be 50 per cent less than last year.

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