Pilliga box

Eucalyptus pilligaensis

Pilliga box (Clemson, p. 48) is often called pox box, knock 'em box, narrow-leaved or mallee box. It flowers in late autumn.

Although this tree will produce reasonable crops of honey, it often causes the collapse of colony populations. A single analysis of the pollen reveals a protein content of 16.6% with deficiencies in iso-leucine and histidine. The low level of iso-leucine would make the available protein in Pilliga box equivalent to a pollen of about 13% crude protein. These findings tend to corroborate statements by Clemson and others that this species is not a reliable pollen source. This poor test result and the low volumes of pollen explain why bee populations collapse while working this floral source. Colonies working Pilliga box face winter with a reduced body-protein level. This increases the colonies' susceptibility to nosema and EBD during the following winter and spring. There are many reports of colonies dying after having worked this tree.

It is recommended to:

* Feed a pollen supplement such as soyflour and pollen mix before, during and for sometime after this honey flow to maintain the bees' body-protein levels before the onset of winter. A number of beekeepers have reported good results from supplementary feeding of their bees. One report stated that bees fed 100 grams of pollen every two weeks during the flowering of Pilliga box produced an extra box of honey, and still had good bees in the hives, compared with a nearby apiary. The apiary which was not fed this supplement almost died out. (Tasker, personal comment)

* After the Pilliga box honey flow, place bees onto good pollen such as stringybark, or heath type plants, so as to stimulate body-protein replacement.

Table 8: Pilliga box Eucalyptus pilligaensis

Minimum % of Amino-Acid from De Groot (1953)
Pilliga May 93
Threonine 3.0 3.6 
Valine 4.0 4.0 
Methionine 1.5 2.4 
Leucine 4.5 6.0 
Iso-leucine 4.0 3.1*
Phenylalanine 2.5 3.6 
Lysine 3.0 6.2 
Histidine 1.5 1.2*
Arginine 3.0 8.0 
Tryptophan 1.0 -
Crude protein   16.6%

* Low level of this amino-acid


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