Australia's largest mass migration of livestock — in the form of bees — is underway in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic and the bulk of the work is happening at night when most of us are sleeping.
It's quite unbelievable but an estimated 227,000 beehives or more than 9 billion bees are being trucked in for the critical job of pollinating Victoria's billion-dollar almond crop. It has taken months of work behind the scenes to ensure apiarists (that's what people are called who look after bees by the way) can safely and efficiently cross the COVID-19 checkpoints on the borders.
Compared to last year, double the number of Queensland's professional beekeepers have booked in for this years' almond flowering season. Hard hit by drought and bushfires, a quarter of the state's apiarists have their incomes pinned on the success of their pollination services.
Sunshine Coast beekeeper Rex Carruthers will be crossing into Victoria three times in the next week. "We don't want to be leaving any loose bees behind to sting people, so to minimise that I think everyone understands that the stops (at the borders) will be fairly brief," Mr Carruthers said. We tend to agree with that comment!
SOME BUZZING BEE FACTS:
Honey bees are super-important pollinators for flowers, fruits and vegetables. This means that they help other plants grow! Bees transfer pollen between the male and female parts, allowing plants to grow seeds and fruit.
One queen runs the whole hive. Her job is to lay the eggs that will spawn the hive’s next generation of bees. The queen also produces chemicals that guide the behaviour of the other bees.
Worker Bees are all female (sorry girls but that is true) and their roles are to forage for food (pollen and nectar from flowers), build and protect the hive, clean and circulate air by beating their wings. Workers are the only bees most people ever see flying around outside the hive.
Drones are the male bees, and their purpose is to mate with the new queen. Several hundred live in each hive during the spring and summer. But come winter, when the hive goes into survival mode, the drones are kicked out!...yep, they die.
Honey bees are fab flyers. They fly at a speed of around 25km per hourand beat their wings 200 times per second!
The average worker bee lives for just five to six weeks. During this time, she’ll produce around a twelfth of a teaspoon of honey. The queen can live up to five years. She is busiest in the summer months, when she can lay up to 2,500 eggs a day!
Just Kidding HQ (yes, that's us) has 6 hives packed full of bees! Not that we have counted, but we estimate there are over 20,000 bees on our property!