Land of milk and (not enough) honey

JNF's project finds a more efficient way of producing honey amidst growing demands.

September 5, 2010 18:31
2 minute read.
A honey shop on Mahane Yehuda

honey311. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

With Rosh Hashanna coming up, honey production is a matter a great importance. Each year, honey consumption increases. A task-force has therefore been assembled to find ways of meeting the growing demands.

The project, which started a decade ago under David Brand’s direction, aims to identify a specific kind of tree. The search for “mega producers,” trees that are most likely to stimulate the most consistent quantity of nectar over an extended period, is jointly headed by the Jewish National Fund (KKL) and the Israel Honey Board (IHB). 

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Wildflowers, the traditional source of nectar, are unreliable because of their susceptibility to climate and precipitation variations. This had originally prompted the team to search for a more reliable way of producing nectar. The “mega producers,” which are not nearly as affected by climate changes, produce a year-round supply of nectar and are therefore a substantial improvement. These trees are especially important during the fall and summer months during which nectar availability is at its lowest, forcing many beekeepers to resort to artificial feeding methods.

Once the appropriate trees have been identified, they are adapted to meet the variety of Israeli conditions existing throughout the country. The KKL now grows a number of saplings for nectar production in several regional nurseries.

Although many of the trees are still young, a number of the Israeli beekeepers participating in the “bee-pasture” project have begun to notice significant changes in the condition of their beehives; they can now leave their hives near the newly planted groves for most of the year instead of following the wild flours blossom like they did in the past.

Up until today, sapling production has held steady with annual rates of a hundred thousand. These trees are then distributed to beekeepers throughout the country where they are planted on lands adjacent to the beehives.

Most popular among beekeepers are a variety of Eucalyptus trees, particularly Lemon-flowered Mallee, Coral Gum, Hybrid Gum, and Red-capped Gum. Each variety of tree produces a specific nectar, ultimately leading to a unique kind of honey.

As the newly planted trees continue to mature, creating a win-win situation for the local honey industry, the bees and the country, everyone will reap the wonder benefits of this far-sighted project. More importantly, there will be no shortage of honey for the upcoming holiday.

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