Warwick apiaries in the know on high beeswax prices
AN INCREASE in global demand of Australian beeswax has prices growing and Warwick beekeepers are reaping the rewards.
Growing from $5 a kilogram five years ago, the golden brick is now selling at $18 per kilogram and local commercial honey producers, Condamine Apiaries are grateful for the climbing prices of wax.
"Any value on wax is a bonus because it's a secondary resource, it's nice to have this profit to fall back on,” Condamine Apiaries beekeeper Jacob Stevens said.
The price hike comes from the Australian honey industry remaining the only one worldwide not infected by the destructive varroa mite parasite, which has caused extensive damage to bee hives in the US and Europe.
Fortunate for local apiarists this means they do not have to use chemicals on their hives to eradicate the pest, making Australian beeswax suitable for pharmaceutical products.
"A lot of companies in the beauty industry require beeswax, we also sell to companies that use it for leather and timber cleaning products and even candle makers,” Mr Stevens said.
Along with domestic sales, the local producers export their products internationally, with Germany as their largest international honey buyers.
Needing the wax to create new honeycomb foundations in hives the apiary produces half a tonne of wax a year to be implanted in new hives.
"For every tonne of honey we produce we probably get about 30kg of wax with it,” Mr Stevens said.
Like most in the agriculture or horticulture industry in Australia the effects of drought conditions have created hurdles in the bee business, Mr Stevens said.
"It's been a very lean season for honey; it's been tough all round.”
"We probably won't see much honey now until the spring time,” he said.
The apiarist said another contributor factor hindering the honey industry was the access to state land.
"We rely on access to state forests as a lot of our bees build hives and pollinate the areas there,” Mr Stevens said.
"If we lose access it can become more difficult for us to retrieve honey.”
Untouched by the varroa mite parasite Mr Stevens said it was a matter of when the parasite would make its way to our shores.
"The industry has strong biosecurity measures however the Government has ditched the eradication programs due to funding issues.”
"There are ports in Cairns where if the parasite were to reach would spread like crazy to the hives in the area,” he said.
In the meantime the fourth generation beekeeper will be focusing on the 1200 hives and preparing for the warmer months.