Spring has definitely sprung and the first of the Manuka flowers have appeared at some of our beekeeping sites. In Australia, we beekeepers often call the plant Jellybush, so named because of the thick, gummy honey the bees produce.
With more than 80 species of Leptospermum in Australia, at least 10 of which produce bioactive honey, flowering can occur at different sites over a number of months. As the flow of nectar finishes at one site, it might be starting at a different site.
That's why as beekeepers we're regularly on the move. We do this to check the health of our bees and the conditions of the plants around them. We're always checking the weather too because if there's too little rain at one location there won't be much nectar, if there's too much rain at another, the nectar can be washed away or the bees will shelter in their hives and not gather it. Collecting Manuka and the size of the harvest is definitely weather-dependent.
It's something special to see a mass of Manuka flowers in bloom. Though Leptospermum species aren't soaring and magestic like forests of Yellowbox, Bloodwood, Stringybark, Ironbark and Applebox (also known as rough barked apple) and Stringybark - when they're in full bloom it's a sight to see. In the right season, masses and masses of dainty Manuka blooms just bring the landscape - and the bees and insects that feed on it - alive.
We've spotted out first Manuka flowers of the season, and we're looking forward to the season ahead.