Moving our bees to Manuka at night
The best time to moves bees is at night. We do this to ensure all the worker bees are home as we don’t want to leave any bees behind. They also settle in for the night as we travel, and by the time the sun comes we’ve unloaded them and they’re ready to fly and start discovering new nectar and pollen sources.
The nectar and pollen sources they’re enjoying right now are those of the marvellous Manuka plant. Also known as Leptospermum, and by us beekeepers as Jellybush, there are wonderful pockets of Manuka in the bush along parts of the Australian coast. They don’t always flower at once, and in different regions Manuka can put on a really good honey flow or none at all right through until Christmas time. A lot has to do with the weather and conditions from previous seasons. And if there’s been a bushfire in the area, it can take years for the Manuka plants to recover.
Before we move the bees to Manuka, we strengthen them out in the forests and fields of the Northern Tablelands and western New South Wales, letting them forage on different species. Manuka is quite a heavy honey, and quite jelly-like, so it can be hard work for the bees to gather it compared to some of the lighter honeys, that’s why we like to have them at full strength as the Australian Manuka begins its honey flow.
Just as it’s hard work for the bees to work the Manuka nectar, it’s hard work for us to extract it too, it’s just so much thicker as a honey compared to the delightfully sweet and light yellowbox.
And speaking of light, if you ever come across a beehive at night (or a truck packed with them), be sure to turn your torch or lights off as bees really don’t like being disturbed come evening time!