Following a difficult start to the year with the destruction of jarrah sites during the Waroona fire, WAFarmers Beekeeping Section has continued to work hard to ensure that the industry gets the most out of the jarrah 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.
While the loss of 40 sites to the fire in January and the fact that the flowering is not quite as good as previous years is not ideal, apiarists are still expected to get a good income from this year’s jarrah harvest, with evidence of reasonable bud so far.
However, this income could be put in further jeopardy due to the logging of forests and burning of apiary sites, which has created headaches for beekeepers and threatened this year’s crop.
Having promoted the biennial jarrah crop locally and internationally as a product of choice, the potential for demand outstripping supply as a result of this logging and burning is a real possibility.
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.
After the Waroona fire, WAFarmers Beekeeping Section consulted the Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW) regarding their proposed fire prevention activities on a number of existing jarrah sites which would significantly deplete all jarrah resources and potentially lead to issues with honey flow.
Given that quite a few commercial beekeeping businesses will be affected by burns this year, WAFarmers Beekeeping Section will also consult with DPaW and the Forest Products Commission regarding their logging and burning activities in an effort to maximise returns for the state’s apiary industry and ensure supply for jarrah honey following the bloom later this year.
Beekeeping is one of the most sustainable industries, but by constantly burning and logging this resource, the State Government is jeopardising this small but important and valuable industry.