Bees Abroad: Adelaide
During my time in South Australia I mainly was placed in Adelaide. My plan was originally to work with 3 different people there on 3 different types of set ups - but unfortunately I was unable to do as intended due to weather again.
In South Australia there is a ban on lighting any form of fire if the temperature is over 36'degrees. This is because they have great problems and devastations with forest fires in and around Adelaide - especially within the hills - where the gum trees and eucalyptus trees grow which are highly flammable. The climate is so dry around this part of Australia that if you were to drop any embers from a fire - it would spread within a matter of seconds.
Due to this law - I was unable to do any practical bee keeping, as the bee farmers are not aloud to light their smokers, so were un-willing to take me out around the bees without a smoker.
On the positive side of this - I went to a monthly BKA meeting of the south Australian bee keepers which was interesting and great networking to meet so many people in the industry in one place. Many people were asking me a lot of questions about queen rearing - so I ended up being asked to do a "Q & A style of presentation whilst I was there that day.
Something which I was completely unaware of was the fact that there are no commercial Queen rearers in the whole of South Australia. The closest place you can buy a queen from is up in Queensland which is a flight away! (or a very long drive).
A great deal of people were saying they had tried queen rearing, but had failed. A few also suggested that the climate in South Australia is far to dry to rear queens as you need humidity to prevent the larvae from drying out once grafted. I struggled to believe this as I have learnt over the last couple of years that larvae is incredibly resilient and can withstand quite a lot.
After the Q&A at the BKA meeting, the few people I was supposed to work with took me to one side and invited me to a breakfast meeting in a few days time as they were interested in talking about the differences in bee keeping in the UK to Australia. I went to the breakfast meeting up in the hills of Cleland in Adelaide which was at Jane McLaren’s bee farm (the farm I was originally supposed to work on). Jane runs 90 colonies and bottles all the honey she produces for local shops and restaurants. To her - bee farming is more of a hobby she enjoys rather than a job as such.
The other guy who attended the meeting was Mike Carrol. Mike only has 10 colonies, so bee keeping is purely an after work and weekend hobby as he is a full time editor and producer for the national geographic channel and the discovery channel. Mike is currently producing and editing together a documentary on bees, and he wants me to be part of it before it is aired in 2016. I agreed to do some work with Mike for this when I am back in Australia in December 2015 as I think it will be very beneficial for me to get more exposure in this industry over that side of the world.
Most bee farmers in Adelaide use their hives for pollination and get a decent income from it. The main yields come from Australian Orange Blossom, Almonds, Canola (oil seed rape), Gum trees and eucalyptus trees. The honey which is produced from these plants has such a distinctive taste and scent - and I haven't tasted any honey like it.