Sherwood Probus Club’s guest speaker for May was Trevor Weatherhead, AM. After 16 years working in the Forestry Department and 5 years in the Bee Section of the Department of Primary Industries, Trevor and his wife started their own beekeeping business in 1988. This business focussed on queen bee raising and honey production. Trevor maintained his involvement with industry groups receiving many industry awards over the following 24 years, as well as Member of the General Division of the Order of Australia.
Many interesting facts emerged from Trevor’s illustrated talk. There are over 24,000 beekeepers Australia-wide, with around 650,000 hives. The numbers in Queensland are 4,500 and 120,000 respectively. Most honey comes from trees and average annual Australian production is 20,000 tons worth $100 million. Around 40% of this production is exported. As well as honey, bees produce other goods such as pollen, beeswax, royal jelly, and propolis which has anti-bacterial properties. In response to a question Trevor described the anti-bacterial properties of honey, especially Manuka. He considered some varieties of Australian Manuka honey to be superior to New Zealand varieties.
Trevor explained that 65% of Australian crops require honey bees for pollination. Total crop value is worth $8.35 to $19.97 billion. These crops range from watermelons, pumpkins, sunflowers, onions, kiwi fruit, to canola and almonds. In Victoria almond growers pay $100 per hive to ensure their trees are pollinated. Trevor pointed out that, despite the large number of crops dependent upon honey bees, biosecurity has been overlooked. Forest fires and asian bees are two main problems faced by beekeepers.
Most members took advantage of the extensive honey tasting and display of different products during morning tea.
Glenda de Baar moved a vote of thanks, on behalf of members, and presented Trevor with a Certificate of Appreciation and gift.