Beekeeper suffers big loss in Yanchep bushfire

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Beekeeper Roy Murphy of Yanchep found burnt honey and not much else when he was able to get in to check his beehives. Picture: Anita McInnes

WHEN Yanchep beekeeper Roy Murphy was able to get in to check where he kept some of his bees earlier this week all he found was some burnt honey and bits and pieces of what were once beehives.

When the Yanchep bushfire burnt land adjacent to Yanchep Beach Rd on Wednesday, December 11 it swept through Mr Murphy’s beehives before burning the only house lost in the incident and Yanchep Service Station.

Mr Murphy said he had had about 80 beehives in the area.

There were about 60-80,000 bees in each of the about 65 working beehives and about 30,000 bees in each of the remaining smaller beehives.

“Put that into numbers and it’s a fair bit of livestock,’’ he said.

“This is my main income and I’m only a small business so obviously being a small business we’re always struggling.’’

He said the loss of flora in the area was devastating.

“I’m just a beekeeper working the floor but roughly I’d say a minimum of five years to where I can even come back in here and work the area.

“There’s a lot of banksia and so forth through here (and) a lot of marri but the main one the parrot bush – the banksia sessilis – that is around here that will take years to recover.

“It will come back thicker but it will take a lot of years until we get to that because walking through it it’s all gone.

“So we’re now going to be looking at regrowth and that’s going to take a while for it to grow and flower.’’

He said he was still working out how much the bushfire had cost him but counting the hives and the honey etc it would be easily $100,000.

Roy Murphy with what remains of the beehives destroyed in the Yanchep bushfire. Picture: Anita McInnes

“So it’s a pretty big smack for a small business that’s taken me so long to get to this point and not only that a lot of the stuff I do with the bees and beehives is all handmade.’’

He bought the hives as flat packs and put them together himself and made the all the lids from scratch.

The hives he has elsewhere will keep a bit of honey available for his clients but it could take him from two to two and a half years to recover financially.

He feels for the people affected by the bushfires over east and said there was talk about the kangaroos and other things but no mention of the flora lost.

“I live off the bush the flora is my asset (and) it’s very hard as a beekeeper to find (good) areas.

“Because I rely on this bush it’s a big loss – a massive loss – to me but beekeepers we’re not spoken about we’re forgotten.”

The Yanchep bushfire burnt about 13,000ha between Wanneroo Rd, Yanchep, Seatrees and Breakwater estates, Two Rocks and Woodridge during the past week.

During that time firefighters from Parks and Wildlife Service, Bush Fire Service, Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service, Volunteer Fire and Emergency Services and the Career Fire and Rescue Service saved more than 6000 homes in the area.