Almond growers are looking to diversify farming practices to avoid threats like the varroa mite Changes to beehive permit rules were introduced overnight allowing Sunraysia beekeepers on the south side of the Murray River to move bees to the rest of the state. However, the interstate ban preventing NSW beehives from entering Victoria remains.
Luke Englefield, planted a 9-hectare self-pollinating almond farm on his Merbein South property seven years ago because he considered it a risk to rely fully on bees to pollinate his trees. He and his wife Lucinda Englefield reaped the reward of that decision this year when the transport of beehives across the NSW border was stopped, due to the detection of the destructive varroa mite two months ago.
Englefield still relies on some bees for pollination. "The one thing that we've discovered is that you still need bees to be brought in because of the sheer quantity of flowers. Like, there'd be billions of flowers.”
Englefield said it was more economical to require fewer beehives, especially, he said, when beekeepers hiked up prices this year for pollination services.