Forest red gum (Clemson, p.34) is a valuable food source for NSW and Qld coastal bees. It flowers between June and October every second to third year. With reasonable soil moisture it will yield nectar and large quantities of pale mustard-coloured pollen.
The crude protein content of the pollen varies between 25% to 28% (Table 24). Here again the amino-acid iso-leucine is deficient, but the high crude protein enables bees to obtain sufficient protein from this floral source.
My personal experience is that bees work this species satisfactorily, however some beekeepers do not like to work this tree, and have given it the name of "dwindle gum", as it is reported to kill the bees.
The problems some beekeepers have found when working this species is probably associated with nosema rather than a poison from the tree. Winter bees that are moved on to this floral source will work hard to collect nectar and pollen and this would aggravate any chronic nosema problem, causing large numbers of adult bee deaths. Most negative comment about forest red gum has come from areas south of Grafton, where beekeepers prefer not to allow their bees to work this tree.
Bees that are put on to forest red gum before it starts to flower, and allowed to work as the flowers open, are reported not to suffer any "dwindle' problems, but will breed to strong hives.
Bees working forest red gum will become aggressive.
Forest red gum is a favourite tree for many forms of wildlife. Flying foxes forage on its flowers, koalas eat its leaves and many beneficial insects can be found on the tree. It is recommended for planting as stock shelter and windbreaks, on NSW North Coast farms.
Table 24: Forest red gum, Queensland blue gum - Eucalyptus tereticornis
* Low level of this amino-acid
Forest red gum pollen grains, seen under a microscope (X400)
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