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Horticulture

Bees in demand by Bundaberg crop growers

BEE HAPPY: Apiarist Darryn Kinsella provides a vital service to the horticultural community.
BEE HAPPY: Apiarist Darryn Kinsella provides a vital service to the horticultural community. Max Fleet

AVONDALE man Robert Black and his thousands of enthusiastic workers are an essential part of the Bundaberg region's horticulture industry.

Mr Black and his army of about 500 beehives are in demand across the region by growers wanting their crops pollinated.

"If they don't have bees they don't get crops," he said.

Zucchini growers are planting four to eight hectares every week, and will be until September.

Mr Black said pollination by hand was impossible on properties of 8ha or more.

And with properties being consolidated and farms growing, Mr Black said his bees were in more demand.

"Everything is getting bigger and bigger all the time," he said.

"Zucchini growers are planting four to eight hectares every week, and will be until September."

Mr Black said his bees were at work at the moment on watermelon crops and anything in the pumpkin family. Then they would move on to the macadamia crop.

"The macadamia growers tell us they don't need us, but they want us," he said.

"Avocados also have to have bees."

Mr Black has been keeping bees for about 25 years.

After his son left school he bought him a beehive for something for him to do, but then became drawn into the business himself.

"I had cane then, but the cane was no good so I thought I'd get bees," he said.

And anybody who thinks a beekeeper would be almost drowning in honey would be wrong.

"Sometimes you get honey, but if it's really dry you don't because the hives have to be self supporting," he said.

He said macadamia trees could yield a lot of honey, which was attracting beekeepers from outside the region to come to Bundaberg.

"Some of them have got 1000 or 1500 hives," he said.

Mr Black said there were setbacks sometimes when farmers sprayed their crops at the wrong time.

"I lost 60 hives recently when a farmer sprayed his fields," he said.

Mr Black said when he lost hives like that it took time to build them up again.

DAKS Honey and Pollination owner Darryn Kinsella said running the business was a full-time job.

"It's very labour intensive," he said.

Mr Kinsella said he had 650 hives and worked closely with Mr Black.

Topics:  apiarist bee keeping bundaberg horticulture