AgriFutures Honey Bee & Pollination Program 2023 RD&E Snapshot

  • 84 pages

  • Published: 2 May 2023

  • Author(s): AgriFutures Australia

  • ISBN: 978-1-76053-342-7

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Welcome to the annual AgriFutures Honey Bee & Pollination Program RD&E Snapshot — what a year it has been.

During the past 12 months, a plethora of compounding issues has continued to challenge Australia’s beekeeping community. The biggie, of course, was the June 2022 varroa mite (Varroa destructor) incursion in NSW. This tiny parasite not only poses an enormous threat to beekeepers, but also to our pollination-dependent agricultural industries. We can only hope the heroic efforts of NSW Department of Primary Industries staff and the sacrifices made by individual NSW beekeepers for the greater good are ultimately successful. It has been sobering to work alongside an Advisory Panel member who has been directly impacted by the event and had hundreds of hives destroyed or lost as part of biosecurity efforts to contain the mite. The incursion has also wreaked havoc on the apiaries of research teams supported by the Program, and more broadly through the ‘Honey Bee Genetic Improvement Program’ (Plan Bee).

Despite the challenges during 2022 for the industry and regional Australia more broadly, the Program has continued to deliver projects I believe will have significant benefits. For example, the ‘Composition of Australian honey’ project will, for the first time, provide a comprehensive database on what makes up our honeys. Industry needs this data to answer groundless concerns about honey adulteration. I’m particularly excited about the ‘External traps for small hive beetle and Supplementary feeding – hive strength and financials’ projects. The latter will help beekeepers make sound financial decisions about whether, when and how much to feed bees. The development of young industry leaders also remains a priority, and this is reflected through the array of established leadership development initiatives available through AgriFutures Australia, such as the Horizon Scholarship. I had the pleasure of meeting our 2022 AgriFutures Horizon Scholar Darcy MacCartie and many of his colleagues last year. It was inspiring to meet a group of young people fascinated by agriculture — and hopefully bees!

Prof. Ben Oldroyd, Chair, AgriFutures Honey Bee & Pollination Advisory Panel