AN INCREASING number of Ipswich land owners are beginning to learn that bees are essential for more than just the production of the sweet, sticky, amber stuff you put on your toast.
The Ipswich and West Moreton Beekeepers Association is buzzing with 130 passionate honey-makers, but as the country's bee numbers decrease, environmental concerns are becoming more of a priority for the group each year.
President Benita Ironside said the club field day at Pine Mountain Hall would address the issue of declining bee populations and strategies to increase them again.
"When there are no bees around to pollinate, that means there's no food," Ms Ironside said.
"At the moment there aren't enough bees around so farmers are bringing beehives in especially to pollinate crops."
Pesticide spraying and land-clearing can also have a detrimental effect on populations of honey bees, as can the presence of a small hive beetle which has been responsible for destroying many hives across the Ipswich region in recent years.
On a local level, the recent dry weather has had a noticeable effect on honey production, with beekeepers unable to rob hives due to their bees not storing sufficient honey.
The news isn't all bad, however.
Long-time association member Noela Geeves said more young people who were buying larger properties were getting interested in owning their own beehives.
"We are very active with education and assisting young beekeepers," she said.
There will be plenty of opportunities for anyone interested in learning more about beekeeping to pick up some hints and tips at the field day.
Experienced keepers will also find it useful, with equipment sales and industry guest speakers including Bremer Institute of TAFE horticulturalist Nicholas Westwood, Dr Srini Srivasan from the Brain Institute and Ian Taylor, who will talk about the impact of pesticides.
"Anyone who wants to get involved can come across to our hives and do some hands-on work with us," Ms Geeves said.
"We recommend that you bring appropriate clothing like long pants, long-sleeved shirts and covered footwear if you plan to take part in these activities."
After this month's field day, the association will start putting together its popular display for the Ipswich Show.
The field day will be held on Sunday, March 23, at the Pine Mountain Hall, Pine Mountain Rd, from 9am-2.30pm. Inquiries to 0414 939 681 or 3281 4165.
SMALL HIVE BEETLE
- Native to Africa
- Larvae destroy hives and honey, bees abscond
- First detected in Australia near Sydney in 2002
- Now spread throughout Queensland