Menu
Rural

Chinchilla bee keeper's sweet business

BEE MAN: Chinchilla’s Rodney Smith has spent more than 20 years working with bees and he said the drought is making honey scarce on the Western Downs.
BEE MAN: Chinchilla’s Rodney Smith has spent more than 20 years working with bees and he said the drought is making honey scarce on the Western Downs. Emma Heron

CHINCHILLA'S Rodney Smith admits that "being a bit silly" helps in the bee business, but after about 20 years buzzing around his hives, he still thinks the job is one of the sweetest.

The 72-year-old keeps about 180 hives across the Chinchilla region and does not even flinch when he cops a sting or 40.

But he said he and the rest of the honey industry definitely felt the bite of the drought.

"I'm only a little bloke in bee keeping since retiring but the last 12 months have barely paid their way, even for a hobby business," he said.

"Honey is scarce. With the extreme dry and the abnormal big wets we have been getting, everything has been thrown out of kilter with tree budding."

May represents Honey Month in Australia and Mr Smith said he hoped the initiative would help draw attention to the importance of bees in agriculture.

He said bees and their vital role in pollination accounted for millions, if not billions, of dollars to the industry.

"People know very little about the bee and honey industry," he said.

"They might know that you need bees to pollinate watermelons and pumpkins but they don't realise they are also vital in pollinating things like lucerne which is used to feed stock.

Mr Smith now only sells a small amount of his honey to Capilano.

The rest goes to loyal customers.

Topics:  bee keeping honey