The Honey Bee & Pollination Advisory Panel farewells highly regarded colleagues


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In 2020-21 the AgriFutures Honey Bee & Pollination Advisory Panel farewelled Dr Doug Somerville, Danny Le Feuvre and Tiffane Bates. Doug, Danny and Tiffane all served on the Advisory Panel at a pivotal time for the Program and the industry. While their reasons for retiring differ, the sentiment is the same; they are sad to be leaving a group of people who are committed to the industry they represent.

AgriFutures Australia Research Manager, Annelies McGaw thanked Doug, Danny and Tiffane for their commitment, knowledge, and collaborative approach during their respective terms. Annelies also thanked Dr Di Leemon for accepting the Acting Chair role during a busy period for the program and while recruitment for a new Chair is being conducted.

A privilege and honour

Dr Doug Somerville chaired the Honey Bee & Pollination Program Advisory Panel from November 2017 to April 2021.

Annelies highlighted Doug’s extensive expertise and industry insights in commercial beekeeping, research and extension, and acknowledged some of his notable achievements.

“During Doug’s term as Chair, he spearheaded the development and implementation of the Strategic RD&E Plan and supported the development, and implementation of the Bushfire Recovery Plan. These are just a couple of important achievements among many others,” said Annelies.

“Doug has outstanding relationship management and negotiation skills. His ability to advocate for the Program and his skills as Chair will be sorely missed.”

Doug described his role as Chair as “a privilege and honour”. He thanked each Advisory Panel member for their valuable contributions to deliver outcomes for Australian beekeepers.

“It is an exciting time to be in the honey bee industry with advances in technology having the potential to revolutionise the way we do business,” said Doug.

“Our understanding of honey bee nutrition, and judicious application of supplementary feedstuffs, to overcome nature’s shortfalls, will bring us in line with other intensive livestock industries.”

He also anticipates the strong growth in demand for honey bees as pollinators will underpin the resilience of beekeeping businesses into the future.

Opening doors – personally and professionally

Danny, former Deputy Chair of the Advisory Panel, and South Australian based beekeeper became a Director of the AgriFutures Australia Board in late 2020 and subsequently stepped down from the Advisory Panel.

Annelies acknowledged Danny’s innovative perspective on industry issues and research and wished him well in his new position.

“Danny really provided blue-sky thinking and for that we are incredibly grateful,” she said.

According to Danny his position on the Advisory Panel was his way of “giving back to the industry” and the experience had opened many personal and professional doors.

“During my tenure I have grown as a person and have gained valuable skills in negotiation, teamwork, critical analysis and strategic planning just to name a few.”

“Participating in all the opportunities the Advisory Panel and AgriFutures Australia have presented me with, has been instrumental to my personal and professional development. The personal connections I have made, not just within my industry but with other levied industries, has been invaluable.”

He rates the Program’s work exploring valued added honey products, including discovering Australian active honey and other benefits such as honey’s prebiotic potential, as a key achievement.

“I leave the Advisory Panel after initiating many exciting and transformational research projects for the industry.”

Bee keeping is a long game

WA-based research beekeeper and former Churchill Fellowship scholar Tiffane Bates stepped down from the Advisory Panel in late 2020. She has been involved in beekeeping in Western Australia for the last 20 years running her own queen bee production business for three years and working in commercial queen production for six.

Annelies described Tiffane’s specialised skills in queen bee breeding and bee genetics, as well as her west coast perspective as an “important skill set for the Advisory Panel”.

“Tiffane’s connection with industry and her understanding and knowledge of bee production on the west coast, has made a real contribution to the Advisory Panel and its research priorities,” said Annelies. According to Tiffane “being on the Advisory Panel has given me a better perspective on how the industry is connected nationally. It added another arrow to my quiver because it allowed me to see the big industry picture and how WA fits into this.”

Tiffane says the work on preparing the new Strategic RD&E Plan for the industry is a “important achievement”.

“This is an important roadmap for the Program and the honey bee industry, and I am proud to say this document has industry-wide relevance. An important aspect of my role and contribution to Western Australian beekeeping is to act as a bridge between science and beekeeping. The Advisory Panel has enabled me to enhance my capacity to do this in both Western Australia and nationally,” said Tiffane.

“It has taught me that each of us can have a voice. It has also taught me the importance of asking the right questions.”

The importance of bee-ing on an Advisory Panel

All retired members agree that being on an Advisory Panel was a great experience, which requires commitment and time.

“You will get as much out of it as you put into it,” said Danny. “It is important to have an open mind, a willingness to accept others’ opinions and to be open to negotiating and compromising with your own positions and views.”

Tiffane added: “For me it’s been an amazing journey and I have nothing but deep gratitude to our incredible team.”

Interested in applying for the Advisory Panel?

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