Honey Bee
Swan Lager was once West Australian, so was Browns, Peters and a plethora of other foods. Now another legendary WA brand is under threat.
The board of Wescobee Honey proposes to sell the lot, lock, stock, and all barrels to Capilano, Australia’s biggest honey producer.
So what’s the problem, given it will all remain in Australian hands?
Well, for a start, Capalino is a Queensland based company and that may not mean much until you start looking at honey facts.
According the Queensland Department of Agriculture, the Asian honey bee is entrenched in far north Queensland.
This excerpt from the department’s website:
The pest bees are known to nest in small urban cavities and therefore have the potential to come in contact with humans. Most importantly, AHB are a natural host for varroa mites, if these mites were introduced into Australia from a new incursion of honey bees, the established Asian honey bees would aid the spread of the mite, which would severely impact Australia’s honey bee industry.
And here is a story from ABC Rural, 23.11.2012:
Thousands of Asian honey bees have been detected and destroyed on a ship at Kurnell in southern Sydney.
The swarm of 2000 bees was also carrying more than 150 Varroa mites, a pest that has decimated bee populations across the world.
The chairman of the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council’s quarantine committee, Trevor Weatherhead, says an incursion of Varroa mite would devastate the industry.
Mr Weatherhead says if they were to invade here they could have a significant impact on how a beekeeper cares for his livestock.
“Beekeepers would have to start treating their hives with acaricides to control this particular Varroa mite and that’s fairly labour intensive and costly.”
“The number of beekeepers would probably drop off initially and therefore you would have less hives in Australia to do pollination which is valued at between $4 billion and $6 billion.”
“And the other major ramification, particularly seeing this was NSW, countries like Canada would probably immediately put a ban on live exports of bees from the eastern states of Australia to Canada.”
All right, let’s not panic, the particular varroa mite found was the jacobsoni, not the destructor, the more potent of the species.
But, here’s the rub, we all know how paranoid we are about things from The East, that’s why we have a man at the South Australian border with a gun to shoot starlings and other men in Norsemen to open up your boot when you drive into this third of the continent. Then there are the sniffer dogs at Perth airport, able to detect honey, walnuts, apples and even packets of processed meat.
Fact is, when the varroa comes, it will hit the East first, so why would you give it an even better chance by agreeing that your honey processor should be a bloke who is probably more interested in honey money than food security?
Wescobee began its life as the Beekeepers Trading Company, a beekeepers cooperative. And now a bunch of directors and shareholders are quite happy for it to go east along with the rest of the gang and sit back while our sons and daughters sell their souls and do the only thing left to do – dig and ship dirt.
This from the Wescobee website:
The Beekeepers of West Australia own and control their own marketing organisation and it is interesting to note – The W. A. Honey Pool is quite voluntary; complete freedom is held out to every beekeeper: it is a child of co-operation.
Compiled by Tom Powell – Manager of the Honey Pool – 19.06.56
Capilano was started by a couple of Smith brothers who began selling their honey around Brisbane grocery stores in the early 1950s. One of them married a Canadian from the Capilano district he met while in Canada as a RAAF flying instructor during WWII. It is now listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (CZZ) and at the time of writing the share price was sitting at $2.25.
Capilano’s website boasts it is now one the world’s largest honey producers. 
If this reads like it has an undercurrent of emotion, you’d be bloody right. And if it triggers a bit in you, go to the Wescobee website and FB page and vent.

More honey tales:
THE HONEY SPINNER, Grace Pundyk, Pier 2008. This fine book takes you on a global honey trail, including a chapter on Australia that might make you squirm.

Sydney Morning Herald, 17.11.2003.

Oh, and if you think Wescobee will take kindly to your posts, no, they won’t. I posted this and it was removed:
Why would you sell Wescobee to a company that is rumoured to import honey from China and Argentina to bolster it’s stocks?
Have the directors not heard of the varroa mite and the threat the world’s bees are under from declining habitat, insecticides and pesticides.
Would selling to an eastern states processor hell bent on money make sense and give them the right to process whatever in West Australian facilities?

Get real, Wescobee directors!

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