Australia’s 12,400 beekeepers are one-step closer to breeding varroa-resistant bees and trapping the serious and pervasive small hive beetle (SHB), as a result of industry’s ongoing investment in a robust research, development and extension (RD&E) program.
With a vision to grow the long-term prosperity of rural industries, AgriFutures Australia works with industry to deliver research and development outcomes. It works in partnership with the AgriFutures™ Honey Bee & Pollination Program Advisory Panel to determine research priorities and make investment decisions.
It’s a collaboration that continues to deliver positive benefits for the industry, according to newly appointed AgriFutures™ Honey Bee & Pollination Manager, Research Annelies McGaw. She believes the resilience of Australia’s beekeepers is reflected in the dynamic RD&E program, which aims to safeguard the health of Australia’s bees.
“Australian beekeeping is valued at $98 million, but its contribution to agriculture and the national economy is far greater,” said Ms McGaw.
“The RD&E Program addresses a number of key risks facing the industry including exotic pests and disease, economic pressures and reduced access to areas of native flora.
“We have 12 unique R&D projects underway that range from increasing the value of Australian honey as a health food to the probiotic development for bees by analysing gut bacteria in healthy bees, to name just a few.”
One of the year’s highlights was the findings of a three-year study into the SHB, led by Queensland researcher Dr Diana Leemon, which found that a lantern trap, together with a simple yeast based attractant, could effectively intercept and trap the SHB before it reached an apiary.
As the largest and leading apiary pest in warm, damp regions of eastern Australia, the SHB costs the industry $11 million on average per year. The project included the most comprehensive economic analysis of SHB ever undertaken, and provided a tangible outcome for industry to help manage the pest.
As Chair of the Advisory Panel, Doug Somerville said a key benefit of the Honey Bee & Pollination Program is its ability to bring together industry, leading researchers and government to collectively find solutions.