BEEKEEPERS in Central Victoria have had access to flowers during summer from a south west Victorian lucerne grower.Victorian Apiarists' Association president Robert McDonald, writing in this month's Australian Bee Journal, said many of his family's hives had been taken to irrigated lucerne pastures in the Western District after a farmer hearing of the plight of beekeepers phoned to offer some help.
He told Weekly Times Now that in years past, many beekeepers were paid to pollinate lucerne crops but the seed returns have not justified the lucerne growers from asking for help with pollination.
This summer has been tough for beekeepers in Victoria, with poor honey flow in the eucalypt forests, but Mr McDonald said this was beginning to change in some areas of the Mallee and in ironbark forest sites around Bendigo.
Mr McDonald said it was sometimes better to let people know about hardships rather than to bear it in silence. He said the lucerne grower had heard of the difficulties being encountered by beekeepers and phoned to offer access to the crop.
He said this had helped sustain hives through a difficult time, replenishing the stores of pollen and honey in bees that were short of both, rather than artificial feeding with sugar syrup just to keep them alive.
"It could be the difference between bees going into winter in good condition or not,'' he said.
The McDonalds took about eight loads of hives down to the lucerne sites and were moving the first of the loads back up to the promising eucalypt sites that were now beginning to show some promise.