Red cob banksia (Clemson, p.124) grows on the coastal heathlands near the edge of swamps. It flowers from June to August and may produce large qualities of honey and rich brick-red coloured pollen.
The pollen of red cob banksia is of very high quality with a crude protein of 30% to 32%. (Table 15)
The problem with this banksia is that it burns very easily and takes several years to recover after fire. However, a stand of red cob banksia five years and older with good ground moisture may yield great rewards. Red cob banksia does not produce pollen on a regular basis, but most years it produces nectar.
Red cob banksia produces large quantities of nectar and hives often produce a surplus of a light coloured, malt flavoured honey. Crops of 30 to 40 kg of honey per hive have been produced from the Broadwater heath.
Due to the good quality pollen produced from red cob banksia the chances of nosema problems are reasonably low. However, a caution needs to be given, as sometimes this banksia does not yield pollen. The bees may be collecting fireweed pollen, which is bright orange and looks very much like banksia pollen. However it is low in protein. This may result in nosema disease in the bees, as they are collecting honey, it is winter, and the stress on the hive is high. If Banksia ericifolia does not produce pollen then the chances of hive population collapse is high. In such circumstances, supplementary feeding of the hives will be essential.
Table 15: Heath-leaved banksia, red cob banksia Banksia ericifolia
* Low level of this amino acid
Pollen grains of Banksia ericifolia, when viewed under the microscope (x 160)
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