CATCH THE BUZZ – Out Back Fires Have Done In Last Beekeeper

Alan Harman

One of the last active beekeepers in Australia’s Northern Territory says too many controlled bush fires have made it impossible to run a sustainable honey business and he’s moving on.

The Australian Broadcasting Corp. says Humpty Doo Apiaries owner Tas Festing is moving his business to Queensland because he is frustrated with all the bushfires and controlled burns in Australia’s Top End that he says are stopping native trees from flowering regularly.

“It’s just getting too hard to do it here in the Top End,” Festing says. “I just can’t keep going. There’s just no food for them (bees) up here and over the last five years it’s just been so hard to keep them alive.

“The native trees don’t seem to flower anymore because of the amount of burning that’s going on. Some of the trees won’t flower for between five and seven years after a burn.”

Festing says his honey production had declined dramatically.

“”Ten years ago I was getting more honey with 40 hives then I am with 250 now,” he says.

Festing does a lot of pollination work for farmers and his departure will affect local horticultural industries.

“They’ll probably have to hang up their boots and close their farms because you need bees for [pollinating] cucurbits,” he says. “There are so many little farms and I don’t know what they are going to do because there are no other beekeepers around.”

Katherine, NT-based beekeeper Nathan Woods told the Australian broadcaster last year that fires were having a massive impact on his income.

“We’re definitely travelling further and further [to find unburnt country], there’s a lot of driving involved to find something to put your bees on,” he said. “If you haven’t got flowering trees to put your bees on, it has a massive impact on your income.”