Our family has been “heading west” for decades. We started “going out west” in the 1970’s when severe drought gripped most of Australia. The outback was the place to be during the long drought because in the winter, the Napunya Tree will often produce nectar when there are few flowers to be found elsewhere in the country.
For many years during the winter, our family migrated to South West Queensland. Traditionally, our bees would be “in the west” by 25 April (ANZAC Day) and our family still owns property in Cunnamulla. We have so many marvellous memories of wonderful people, dusty roads, sun stroke, fighting fires, winning ribbons, camping along the Warrego River and bidding for the coveted Lizard Cake at Eulo during the Opal Festival.
This year David and Jodie, 3rd Generation Beekeepers, “went out west” in late March to “check the country”. It was a two week road trip to check the quality, size and abundance of flowering on the Napunya Tree and ground flora as well as a chance to spend some time with family friends.
Some might say it was eventful, but we think its just part of life.
The best part of “heading out west” is the people. If you’ve never been to this part of Australia – you really must go, just to meet the amazing people who live in this part of the world. We look forward to seeing them every year.
This year, the Napunya Tree flowering is magnificent and holds the promise of one the most productive seasons “out west” in many years. The bees will do well here this year and will survive the winter with nourishment from the varied natural flora that abounds in the outback.
We have to say – this is something that sets Australian beekeeping apart from the rest of the world. We don’t suffer from the problems related to mono?single floral planting that the rest of the world does. Australian flora is the most diverse in the world, is revered by many and is something we wish more people could see, feel and appreciate.
We love these photos of the Napunya Tree and the way they contrast with the deep rich red earth and crystal clear sky. If you go into this country the colour will seep into your skin, your clothing and your soul.
During March and April the looming winter forced David and Jodie into the reality of planning the logistics for moving multiple loads of bees “out west” and the last of the bees were on properties of family friends by late April.
(We move bees overnight to reduce stress on the hives and you can read more about how we move bees by clicking here.)
Now it’s July and the outback honey harvest has begun. The first of the honey is a blend of the honey that was on the bees when we moved them “out west” and the Napunya. We wait until the hives have two full boxes of honey on top of the brood box (or bottom box). We only take the top box off so that the bees always have at least one full box of honey with the hive at tall times.
When the honey is ready to harvest we stand the full box of honey up on its end.
The bees are naturally compelled to go back into the hive because they are drawn to the scent of their queen.
It takes a while for the bees to walk home and it’s the perfect time for a break, lunch or a nap.
Over the past six months its been a joy to share our work with tourists who have been interested in bees and beekeeping, but they usually watch from afar.
The bees will stay “out west” for a few more months yet and soon there will be some outback honey for you taste. It is nearly ready, but you have to be patient, just like we are, and wait for the pure outback honey that will be harvested in a month or so.
Outback beekeeping is beautiful and we will admit the work is hard and dirty, but we have made life long friends and we cherish the memories they give us.
We look forward to hopefully sharing our exceptional outback honey with you all soon. (It will always depend on the weather). Our outback honey has won blue ribbons at The Royal Easter Show in Sydney and is among the thickest honey we produce. Sometimes its dark amber, and tastes of caramel and spicy butter scotch with a hint of pepper. Other times, when the Napunya Tree flowering is prolific the outback honey is light amber, delicate and gentle with a soft nutty flavour.
David and Jodie and the Honey Delight Family