Plan Bee flies south

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Bee hives in field

Plan Bee is a truly national program. Earlier this month a Plan Bee team made up of Nadine Chapman and Erica Mo (University of Sydney), Slavi Nenov (NSW Department of Primary Industries) and Frewioni Baume (contractor for the NSW Department of Industries) contingent of the program headed to Tasmania, to meet with various breeders and beekeepers to collect samples and to chat about the potential impact of genetic improvement.

One of the beekeepers the team met in Tasmania was Lindsay Bourke from Australian Honey Products who is also the President of Tasmanian Beekeepers Association. According to Lindsay, genetic improvement is critical for the growth of the industry.

“Australia is a small market, we don’t have a huge cohort of beekeepers or hives so we need to punch above our weight to get the most out of our resources and genetic improvement helps us do that,” he said.

Julian Wolfhagen, the founder of the Tasmanian Honey Company agrees, saying that as the environment around us changes, we need better adapted bees.

“It’s not an exaggeration to say that to guarantee our long-term survival, we need our bees to adapt and perform at their best,” Julian explains.

“You just have to look at the recent varroa incursion in NSW to realise the potential impact of a changing environment. If we can breed bees that are more resistant to pests like varroa, our food supply, which revolves heavily around pollination from bees, is infinitely more secure.”

Nadine Chapman, Lead Researcher for Plan Bee, said the visit to Tasmania was both productive and helpful for the program.

“One of our biggest focuses for the Plan Bee program is to build a truly national genetic database,” Nadine said.

“Coming down to Tasmania and helping beekeepers like Julian and Lindsay to collect samples for submission into the project has been incredibly valuable.”

“As part of the program we’re always looking to get out to different parts of Australia to collect genetic samples, so regardless of where you are located, please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you are interested in learning more about your hives and helping support the national honey bee genetic improvement program.”

For more information on the program, contact Nadine Chapman (nadine.chapman@sydney.edu.au).

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