Climate Champion Series : Jenan Cannon

The following is a guest post in our Climate Champion series – today by Jenan Cannon

Name: Jenan Cannon
Location: Urila, NSW, close to Canberra
Role: Beekeeping: honey, beeswax and pollination

Jenan Cannon travels up to 400 kilometres in any one direction for her farming enterprise, over 20,000 hectares of land. But the land’s not hers, and she can move her animals 6 or 7 times a year.

Jenan and husband Des are beekeepers, and they produce honey, beeswax and help farmers pollinate their crops and trees. And beekeepers are very concerned about how climate changes are affecting Australia and our ability to produce food.

She says that climate change is already affecting our food production. In the last 10–15 years, at places like Batlow (major apple production) and Young (cherry production), there are no longer enough wild bees to pollinate the crops. Drought and extreme heat reduce the number of wild hives in the environment, and can also directly kill bees.

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Jenan Cannon

On extremely hot days, the honeycomb starts melting and the honey runs onto the ground.

These changes in climate mean that an ever-increasing aspect of the Cannon’s business is pollination services for farmers, from 15% to more than double that. The Cannons, at their peak, managed 1050 hives but are now semi-retired and have reduced their hive numbers to 25.

“People need to realise that we cannot continue to mine and burn our fossil fuels indiscriminately and not have problems in the future,” Jenan says.

Climate is absolutely critical in Australia’s ability to grow crops and raise livestock. “In a country as dry as Australia we need to conserve our water resources and make people more water-aware and water-wise,” she says.

Beekeepers are uniquely aware of changes in rainfall. They need to know what trees will flower, when and where. It can take up to 2 years for those trees to flower. Often, rainfall in one year determines flowering—the bees’ food—for the next year. Forecasts are crucial for beekeepers to plan how they will move and manage their hives.

These changes in rainfall and temperature are causing plant flowering to become more irregular and unreliable, and possibly the pollen to become less rich in protein, which then reduces the nutrition of the bee, the profitability of making honey and its viability as an industry.

But through the challenges facing the beekeeping industry from the climate alone, Jenan is hopeful. She believes young people will take the industry and country forward.

Jenan’s daughter Pele has certainly begun to explore this—Pele joined the Climate Champion program in 2010, and recently handed the mantle of Climate Champion participants to her parents when she moved.

“I think they will be more aware of the problems facing us in the future, and will continue to explore new ways to produce clean energy.”

Jenan takes part as a producer in the Climate Champion program, a group of farmers keen to communicate with other farmers about managing climate risk, and to researchers about what farmers need from research and development. She and Des also publish and edit The Australasian Beekeeper magazine.

Jenan is a farmer in the Climate Champion program, a group of farmers keen to communicate with other farmers about managing climate risk, and to researchers about what farmers need from research and development.

Don’t forget to head over to our website! We are daughters, mothers, sisters and grandmothers getting on with practical climate action to live better for us and the planet. Join the movement at www.1millionwomen.com.au