Withering bee populations have prompted global concern, but it looks like 2016 will be a good year for them in Australia. In the western part of the country, there’s a forest of massive karri trees that only flower every seven to 10 years. This year a huge number of them have bloomed simultaneously and beekeepers are thrilled. Karri tree flowers act like magnets for bees, which are producing buckets of honey.
While the forest’s karri trees tend to blossom in patches, this year far more of them have flowered together. Beekeeper Mike Spurge works in the area, where his father worked before him as a beekeeper back in the 1960’s. He said the forest has changed, possibly due to climate change and wildfires. Back then, his father was able to keep the bees in one place instead of shifting them from place to place as Spurge often has to do. This is crucial because in a struggling profession, he’s now able to save money by keeping them in one place and has yielded more honey.
He told ABC News Australia, “It hasn’t flowered like this for 40-odd years or more; nearly 50 years that it’s been over the whole forest. It’s flowering right through the whole 12-month period this year which it used to do back in the 1960’s.”
Spurge said honey production doubled this year. Other beekeepers report that each hive in the karri forest is generating around 250 to 440 pounds of honey. Because the flowering is so rare, honey from karri tree blossoms is treasured and goes for more money than other varieties. Spurge said the flavor is mild and that the honey candies fairly well. He described the combination of steep prices and large volume as a “game changer.”