Macadamias are an Australian native nut tree that is being extensively grown on the north coast of NSW and Queensland. Beekeepers use these plantation areas for spring hive-buildup and a little honey production.
The quality of Macadamia pollen is very variable. It ranges from 16% to 22% crude protein (Table 20). The amino-acid iso-leucine appears in two analyses to be the major limiting factor and in one analysis it is quite sufficient.
Bees appear to only collect small quantities of this pollen, as macadamia pollen found in the traps is only a small part of the total pollen in the traps. Bulk testing for crude protein of pollen collected by bees in macadamia orchards tends to be around 17% crude protein. This is low for rapidly breeding bees.
Macadamias flower July to September but the main flush is in September. This flowering may yield both pollen and honey. When macadamia is yielding honey, bees breed very well and they can collect 10 to 15 kg surplus of a dark slightly molasses-flavoured honey. However, most honey produced from macadamia orchards is not macadamia honey, but from other floral sources associated with the orchards.
Bees bred in macadamia orchards can become very strong swarming hives, but they are low protein bees. They need to access high quality pollen such as forest red gum pollen otherwise hive populations will collapse. Queen bees bred on macadamias are usually not long-lived queens.
Bees tend to work macadamia for nectar rather than pollen, but will occasionally collect pollen, either by directly foraging, or as a result of accidentally brushing against the stigma (Stace 1986). Macadamia plantations, along with associated rainforests and weeds, are good spring build-up areas. However, sprays associated with plantations can cause problems.
Honey bees are regarded as valuab
Table 20: Macadamia Macadamia integrifolia
* Low level of this amino-acid
Macadamia pollen seen under a microscope (X400)
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