LOCAL apiarists are assessing the damage from last week’s fire emergency in the southern Shoalhaven.
At least one local beekeeper has had hives destroyed in the blaze, losing more than 50 four-deck hives in the Jerrawangala area.
Tomerong beekeeper Lindsay Parnell said as well as the loss of hives, which were valued at around $200 each, the bushland in which the bees collect pollen to make honey will also take a long time to recover.
“It has really only been the last couple of years that the area has fully recovered from the 2001-02 fires,” Mr Parnell said.
“When you lose country it takes a long time for it to recover.
“Out in the banksia country west of Nowra off Braidwood Road all the banksias were burnt. While that encouraged new plants by the seeds opening, all the other mature plants were gone and it takes at least five years for them to be productive again.”
He said the local beekeeping fraternity was a tight knit group and had been in contact with each other to see if any had lost hives or needed help.
“Locally so far we have only heard of one keeper who has lost hives, but there are some who haven’t been able to get in or are just getting back to their hives to assess them now,” he said.
“We were lucky we didn’t lose anything but we did move hives in anticipation of the fire and still have the Bobcat on the back of the truck if we have to move them again.”
Mr Parnell and his father Ken have been beekeepers for a number of years.
“We have bees in the Tomerong State Forest and on private property around the district as well as in national parks both off Braidwood Road and at Huskisson,” he said.
To restart a hive Mr Parnell said you had to buy a queen; available from specific queen breeding farms in western NSW.
“You then remove some bees from one of your hives and take the brood and bees to kick off the hive, but it all takes time for them to get established.”
And if you are wondering why there are so many bees on the coast at the moment, it is due to the dry conditions out west.
“Out west is so dry they really haven’t had anything out there except for the canola and that went quickly,” he said
“We usually have bees out there but this year kept them on the coast.”