Climate to blame for low honey pot
IT'S not so sweet a time for Ipswich honey producers like Trevor Weatherhead.
Due to unfavourable weather conditions, the Australian honey industry is expected to deliver the lowest national honey yields in at least a decade.
A combination of excessive heat, flood and drought has hit prime honey-producing areas in recent times and seen honey supplies fall by more than 50%.
The honey-producing process requires the right mix of temperatures and rainfall for nectar-producing crops to grow, set buds, flower and then have bees collect the nectar to ripen the honey.
But Mr Weatherhead, 65, the executive director of the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council, said erratic temperatures - both hot and cold - meant spring production was very low.
He said both beekeepers and honey packers were bracing themselves for the next year.
"Stock is now the scarcest it has been in more than 10 years and honey packers are finding it very difficult to secure supplies," he said.
"The last time we had negative weather conditions like this was back in the '90s, during a drought.
"It was tough, beekeepers just had to keep driving around to try and find areas where there were flowers.
"Some beekeepers had to get part-time jobs to support themselves because they couldn't do much with the bees."
Mr Weatherhead, of Peak Crossing, said it was more important than ever for Australians to support the local honey industry.
"We expect that the price of honey could go up in supermarkets as a result of the situation," he said.
"We're hoping the public will continue to buy honey as they would normally if that happens."
Domestic supermarket retail sales for honey are in excess of $150 million a year.