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Jellybush precautions?

My wife was the gardener of the family but since her passing a few years ago I’ve managed to keep most of the place alive, even though I don’t know what many of the plants are called.

There’s a tree in the front garden that this afternoon I noticed was starting to flower. I chased up some websites and am pretty sure it’s jellybush. I’ve heard this can cause problems in the flow frames so I’m checking in to see if there are any precautions that people take.

There is only one tree, 3m or 4m tall with cascading shape and lots of tiny buds that are just starting to open.

My bees mostly head off in the other direction for foraging, out over the back fence and to places unknown. I’ve not seen any head to the front garden direction at all.

If they decide to forage from this tree, what percentage of nectar from here is likely to clog the flow frames? I imagine the tree will only form a part of their nectar source.

Ironically, the shape of this tree is very straggly and it grew much taller and spread out further than my wife had planned for, so it very nearly got removed some years ago. I have ignored it until getting the bees, and only recognised the flower from another post on this forum.

Google “Tea Tree” and you will see pics of the foliage and the flowers but from what you are describing you tree is not a Teas Tree which is a very major producer of Jelly Bush Honey. You could take a cutting of a few twigs to a local nursery and they would likely know what it is and they would definitely be able to show you a ‘tea tee’ plant. They grow reaching for the stars, even in a drought they don’t look scraggy or ‘cascade’ in their form. When it is flowering the bees really go for it like crazy.

Hi Pete there are about 83 species of tea tree in Australia, do you know which one, or are they all lumped as jelly bush. Google is not much help.

I don’t have them here within a couple of kms radius, but it’s good to know what look for if one day I decide to strap the hives to my roof rack and go migratory…

Fred asked me about tea trees that are in the WA bush and I posted a reply to him, that might help you with the link in my reply, The link also includes a map and marked areas in WA where it is found.

Here are some pics.

First one shows it has several trunks with lots of foliage straight up and lots cascading to the left.

The flowers, buds and leaves.

And showing the size of the tree from the street.
Bottom left with white flowers is something else. Top left corner is neighbour’s tree. Middle left is fig tree behind this one.

Flowers, buds & leaves, any nuts?

The flower looks right for our coastal tea tree and Jeff is on the right track about if there is a ‘nut’ formed behind the flower. The leaves are right too. The white flower and the mauve variety are the common varieties. Very common in sandy soil along the East coast at least from Fraser Island down as far as the Victorian border and maybe further. Very common in heath land and prefers full sun. The only thing missing in the pics is all the bees as they will forage hard on it. Fortunately up here it doesn’t flower all of the year. Jelly Bush honey is a hassle for me, it sells for a good price if you have the time to put into harvesting it.
Cheers Kim

Hi Peter, the nuts were only an afterthought. It’s those beautiful classic flowers that give it away. I don’t mind if my bees bring a heap of it’s honey back. It’ll give me a chance to dust off my honey press.

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A honey press might have to get to the top of my ‘to buy’ list to make it easier to extract from a conventional Langstroth frame scraping the comb off the foundation.
With Jelly Bush honey in a Flow Frame it is a ‘bad news day’. Even in a hot day it simply doesn’t drain out of the frame for me. I’ve seen the hype and read how to recover it from Flow Frames but it is a hassle I would prefer not to have.
Cheers mate

Before you go ahead & buy one, you should talk to my friend Gary at Cooroy, the bloke who has bees in Twin Waters. He bought a cheap Chinese one. Also talk to @Semaphore.

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The tree is only just coming into flower and I’ve not seen any bees on it at all. They are so busy bringing in nectar from somewhere over the back fence that they probably have no need to scout in the front garden yet.

Do all leptospermums produce jelly honey or only certain types?

Gee Kim, an interesting question and I can only say that the species that has the mauve flower and the white one that is growing wild in your area I find produces Jelly Bush honey. Both are commonly found on the coast and lower mountains. It was fairly common in the Hawkesbury and Lower Blue Mountains and up here on the Sunshine Coast and anywhere with sandy soil in between. As they both seem to flower at the same time I don’t know if they both have the same glutinous honey or if one is more thinner than the other. They are both a species of Myrtle and more common than I first thought and found in all the mainland states, not sure about in Tassie. Where it used to grown wild was around Aero Pelican where just about all the scrub plants was tea tree to about a couple of meters and was a real picture in the summer. I remember pulling over and picking some and there was a real honey smell in the air.