Wānaka Sun       

“Knife-edge” honey prediction for local producers

Posted at 6:00am Thursday 07 Jan, 2021 | By Pat Deavoll editor@thewanakasun.co.nz

It could be a boom or bust for local honey producers this season, dependent on the weather through January. Beekeepers said the recent rain was a much-appreciated boon, and if the next month was a hot one, they could be looking at a stellar harvest.

Steve Wooton of Taylor Pass Honey, Wānaka, said he felt the honey season was “only just getting going.”

“ We have had a good amount of rain but it has been slow leading up to that. We are looking at an average season at the moment. The clover is starting to show up so with a bit of heat through January things will improve  But we are still sitting on that knife-edge for the season.”

The spring was good, he said.  “We saw better matings with our queens and a few more settled periods. It allowed us to get the hives up to strength and get organised leading into November and December.

“ We are about to take honey off a few areas to get ready for the white crop coming in.

“Predictions are exciting and nervous at the same time. If it goes hot we could have a great season.”

Tim Wood of Lindis Honey, Bannockburn said the season was quite different to last year.

 “It was quite dry up until we had the rain in the last few days.

“The bees weren't doing too much but this rain has been amazing- terrible for the cherry orchardists down this way of course.

“For us, it's incredible and will bring on a lot of clover growth. Our crop will probably come in later this year. There is honey in the hives now but it's not worth collecting. We will just leave the boxes on the hives and will probably collect in two or three weeks.

“Most of our honey is clover, with a small block of manuka but the access was flooded last year and we haven't been able to get in there.”

“If the weather settles and the heat comes on there will be a decent crop out there.

Jess Curtis of Branch Creek Honey in the Cardrona Valley is in the process of taking over 40 hives from her grandfather. He has had hives on the family property for about 20 years. Curtis has been involved in the business for about two years and is looking to build hive numbers up to about 100.

“I haven't had a look (at the crop) the last couple of weeks and I only have one type of honey so can't speak for the manuka honey growers.

“But the honey crop was looking good two weeks ago.”

Spring was pretty good, she said; “Quite dry and a huge contrast to last year which was very wet.

“The bees seemed to get onto their food sources well. We gave them a top-up late spring before the next flow of food came in.”

CEO of Apiculture New Zealand Karin Kos said: “Nationally the season has been very patchy and off to a slow start given the variable weather conditions we've had across the country. But we are hoping more settled weather will see production increase (note: it's still early days as the season doesn't finish till around the end of February.)

“Regarding honey prices, it's too soon to see what these will be for the 20/21 season but we are expecting similar price trends to the previous couple of years.”

Read edition 1008 of the Wānaka Sun here.

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