Land clearing blamed

Capilano Honey WA sales manager Michael Bellman checks jars of honey. Picture: Marcus Whissond423430
Capilano Honey WA sales manager Michael Bellman checks jars of honey. Picture: Marcus Whissond423430

He said the Bassendean-based business sold its premium Active Jarrah Honey for up to $35 for a small 375ml jar, increasing to about $90 for a litre.

The most lucrative markets were in Japan and China, where it was sought after for its anti-bacterial qualities.

‘Manuka honey is worth $1 billion to New Zealand’s economy,’ Mr Bellman said.

‘Jarrah honey could rival that.’

Department of Agriculture and Food research officer Rob Manning said the value of WA’s honey market was smaller than that of Queensland and New South Wales, but pollination of export crops increased the worth of bees.

‘Some of the large investments in avocado orchards would fail if there were no beekeepers,’ he said.

Mr Bellman said jarrah honey was unique to WA’s south-west where jarrah trees grow, but land clearing had reduced honey production.

‘It is crazy that we are living in a slash and burn world where we are sitting on this lucrative product,’ he said.

Dr Manning said research on jarrah honey had made the value of the product increase and agreed that land clearing had reduced honey production.

‘Much of the native coastal and wheatbelt areas have been cleared which has limited the area of honey production,’ he said.

Mr Bellman said there were about 14 top commercial beekeepers in WA, producing about 1500 tonnes of honey, but new beekeepers were needed.

Wescobee Honey, which was recently bought by Capilano after previously being owned by local beekeepers, has expanded its market to the eastern states.

Mr Bellman said there was a worldwide and Australia-wide shortage of honey, but Western Australia’s product was highly sought after because local bees are not affected by diseases afflicting other populations.