BUZZING BACK: Bee keepers have welcomed a $1 million funding package from the state government, but some think it could be too late. Picture: Dominic Elsome
BUZZING BACK: Bee keepers have welcomed a $1 million funding package from the state government, but some think it could be too late. Picture: Dominic Elsome

Drought funding for honey industry not completely sweet deal

BEEKEEPERS have cautiously welcomed the announcement of $1 million in funding to help them survive the affects of drought and fire.

The state government pledged the funding on Monday, will fund the waiver of this year’s permit fees for accessing State Forests and protected areas, as well as free access to a large stockpile of bee feed sugar.

Queensland Beekeepers Association state secretary Jo Martin applauded the support package.

“This announcement will provide direct and immediate financial relief to our hardworking Queensland beekeepers,” Ms Martin said.

“These site fee waivers will ensure the security of beekeeping sites, which beekeepers use as a healthy haven between pollination services.”

But Flagstone Creek beekeeper Ian Carpenter was less sure about the benefits of the waivers.

“A lot of our fees for permits, we will book them five years in advance,” Mr Carpenter said.

“If it’s only gonna be for new permits, well it’s not gonna make a lot of difference.”

Mr Carpenter supplies honey to Capilano from his roughly 550 hives.

In a good year, he aims to produce about 40 tonnes of honey, which he supplies in a monthly allocation.

But since March last year, he only been able to supply around the equivalent of three months allocation.

Bee keeper Ian Carpenter says waiving access fees to State Forests this year won’t do much good, as most bee keepers pay for access five years in advance.
Bee keeper Ian Carpenter says waiving access fees to State Forests this year won’t do much good, as most bee keepers pay for access five years in advance.

He said the second part of the package – free access to bee feed sugar – was welcome, but likely too late.

“Probably three months ago, it would have been a big, big help,” he said.

“Now with all this rain around we’re probably going to get a lot of weeds.”

This explosion of weeds would likely tie his hives over for the next six to eight weeks, by which time trees may have started to flower again.

He said while the package was a good idea, the more pressing issue for the Queensland bee keeping industry was the looming lockout of hive from national parks.

With many state forest, used by bee keepers to house their hives, being transferred to National Parks, the government has essentially issued eviction notices to the bee keepers – get out by 2024.

Mr Carpenter said with the scale of landclearing occurring on private property, there simply wasn’t enough trees on private property to sustain hives.

“Probably 70 per cent in a normal year would come out of crown land,” he said.

“You take that away, you’re just not going to be in business.”