Shoppers will almost certainly be bothered by higher honey prices as supply becomes tight and beekeepers struggle to keep their hives alive during what could be the worst season ever.
Honey production during the coming summer production period is expected to be around 30 percent lower on average, as drought continues to kill pollen-producing trees in beekeeping regions in northern NSW and southern Queensland.
Hive + Wellness, Australia's largest honey manufacturer and owner of the Capilano brand, says the supply is expected to be up to 3,000 tonnes below an average year of 10,000 tonnes, as 98 percent of its apiarists report being affected by drought.
Chief operating officer Ben McKee said that increased competition for a smaller honey pot meant that Hive + Wellness now paid beekeepers up to $ 6 per kilogram for their product, up to a dollar more than usual.
Honey production during the coming summer production period is expected to be on average 30 percent lower. Pictured: Hive + Wellness & # 39; Capilano
That will soon be on the supermarket shelves.
& # 39; Our beekeepers should get better honey prices & # 39 ;, McKee said.
& # 39; We're the middle man, so that goes on to consumers. & # 39;
Capilano is responsible for approximately 70 percent of honey production in Australia and relies on beekeepers all over the country to make the sweet stuff flow.
McKee says that although 2019/20 could be the lowest national harvest ever, the company had about three to six months of stock in reserve to prevent a repeat of the shortage of honey production in 2014.
& # 39; But we work with inventory levels that continue to fall and are affected by years of severe drought, & # 39; he said.
& # 39; This year is bad, but it also comes on top of a few bad years. & # 39;
The drought conditions are so severe in some areas that apiarists ship their bees abroad just to keep them buzzing.
"These producers are not trying to pursue circumstances to make honey, they are moving bees from Queensland to Victoria to hunt nectar and pollen just to keep them alive," McKee said.
Unlike livestock-oriented agricultural industries, beekeepers will not get any money by selling their animals when pastures dry up, which means that expensive additional feeding with syrups and pollen is the only option if they want to stay in the game.
Chief operating officer Ben McKee (photo) said that increased competition for a smaller honey pot meant that Hive + Wellness now paid beekeepers up to $ 6 per kilogram for their product, up to a dollar more than usual. That will soon be on the supermarket shelves
There is also the increased risk of forest fires, which Mr McKee said is preventing many from moving beehives to state forests and national parks to some of the more productive coastal areas.
Bert Seagrave, a beekeeper from Emmaville from the New England region of NSW, said he was facing the worst honey production in his life.
& # 39; We are working tirelessly just to keep our bees alive & # 39 ;, he said.
Even in the case of an immediate drought-breaking rainstorm, honey-making conditions are unlikely to improve quickly.
"Next year is a concern even when the rain comes," said Mr. McKee.
& # 39; The trees need a lot of time to recover … some only flower once every two to three years, so it's not like things will change soon. & # 39;
The drought conditions are so severe in some areas that apiarists ship their bees abroad just to keep them buzzing. Pictured: Capilano honey
Finally, Mr. McKee said that beekeepers would continue to leave the industry.
& # 39; We lose beekeepers in every drought. It just gets too hard, & he said.
& # 39; Beekeepers often have a family business and cannot afford to retain the employees who work for them. & # 39;
Capilano was purchased last year by private equity firm Roc Partners and Wattle Hill in a $ 200 million deal previously listed on the ASX.
It changed the name of Capilano Honey Limited to Hive + Wellness Australia in early 2019.
The company's sales reached a hit in 2018 amid media reports about fake honey, despite the ACCC ruling that the test method was not proven.
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