White box

Eucalyptus albens

White box (Clemson, p. 36) is a valuable winter honey and pollen tree for Northern NSW and Southern Queensland beekeepers.

Seven samples of the pollen have been tested. The samples tested a constant 17% to 20% crude protein, indicating a quality only a little below the 20% crude protein required by honeybees. The amino-acid profile indicated a slight lack of iso-leucine. (Table 16)

White box is a floral source, which normally will just supply the protein needs of an overwintering beehive, especially one that is stressed by collecting winter honey. If, due to wet or cold weather, the volume of pollen collected by the bees decreases then the quantity of protein available to the bees will also decrease.

Under such nutritional stress conditions, diseases like nosema and European brood disease can occur, and decimate the hive population.

With good winter weather, when the bees can forage all day and collect plenty of pollen, bees may overwinter satisfactorily. They may also collect a good crop of honey.

On some occasions, when white box continues to flower into the spring, large volumes of honey and good bees are obtained, but this is the exception and not the rule.

Some of the methods used to successfully work winter white box honey flow are: the use of a microscope to monitor for nosema, limited honey harvesting, keeping the bees very compact and moving bees onto good breeding as soon as the white box finishes.

A number of beekeepers have fed their bees soyflour based protein food while their bees were working white box, and all have reported satisfactory results.
 
 

The term "white box bees" is given to bees which have come off this floral source. They have a "dopey" appearance, are slow to breed and are subject to diseases like sackbrood and EBD. They possibly have a high nosema level and a low body protein level.

It is recommended that "white box bees" are placed onto the best breeding available, for a minimum of six weeks, before being asked to collect a crop of honey. They should also be re-queened as soon as possible.

Table 16: White box Eucalyptus albens

Amino-acid
Minimum % of Amino-Acid from De Groot (1953)
Inverell

August 1986

Inverell

June 1989

Inverell

June 1989

Tamworth June 1990
Inverell

6/6/91

Delungra 14/5/91
Delungra 14/5/91
Threonine 3.0 3.11 4.8 3.86 4.0 2.98 3.7 3.4
Valine 4.0 4.76 6.82 4.76 4.4 4.7 4.8 4.5
Methionine 1.5 2.00 4.94 1.91 2.0 2.85 3.1 2.7
Leucine 4.5 6.91 6.77 6.83 6.5 5.7 5.3 5.7
Iso-leucine 4.0 3.72* 3.8* 3.72* 3.5* 3.6* 3.7* 3.5*
Phenylalanine 2.5 4.24 4.06 4.06 4.4 3.7 3.9 3.7
Lysine 3.0 6.66 6.64 6.66 6.7 5.6 5.3 5.3
Histidine 1.5 2.88 2.35 2.53 3.9 1.9 1.9 1.9
Arginine 3.0 7.06 7.05 7.32 5.9 6.4 6.3 6.3
Tryptophan 1.0 - - - - - -
Crude protein - 17.9% 17.7% 17.9% 16.3% 19.19% 20.13% 19.5%

* Low level of this amino-acid

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