There are hundreds of species of plants that provide nectar or pollen, or both, in sufficient quantities and of suitable quality to benefit bees which are kept commercially and by amateur beekeepers in New South Wales and adjoining States. These plants have enabled the honey industry in this area to develop over the past one hundred years and, with migratory operations practised by apiarists, honey yields per hive are amongst the highest in the world. Native species, especially the eucalypts, normally make the major contribution, but there are times when certain introduced species provide very good honey crops. Introduced plants play a very important role in providing pollen supplies which are essential for the reproduction, development and longevity of bees.
Individual species of plants have particular seasons for developing flower buds or bursting into blossom and different periods of flowering duration. Following a drought some eucalypts take several years to recover and flower normally, while certain other genera flower beneficially shortly after the drought has broken. Certain eucalypts flower more regularly than others, are more reliable, produce better quality nectar or pollen and are less influenced by weather, so it is important for the apiarist to have a working knowledge of the beneficial species.
Some plants occur over an extensive area while others may be restricted to specific geographic, climatic and soil zones. Certain species or groups of species are commonly found growing in association with one another, and these associations may be of value to apiarists.
A knowledge of the honey and pollen flora within the commercial beekeeper's working range is of major importance to him. The ability to recognise specific plants, their flowering patterns and productivity is also of importance to the side-line producer, the beekeeper with hives for specific pollination roles, and the hobby enthusiast. Such knowledge is necessary for planning management programmes.
This book describes the most important honey and pollen sources for bees in and around New South Wales. It provides information on the general appearance, botanical features, distribution, time of flowering and apicultural value. As rainfall and seasonal patterns influence plant growth and nectar and pollen production, climatic influences are discussed where they are important. Colour photographs of the plants described should assist in rapid and correct identification.
A flowering chart and a distribution guide are included to help apiarists plan their operations. While unforeseen circumstances beyond one's control may affect the anticipated yield, informed decisions have much to contribute towards it.