Bee Informed: A celebration of 60 years of honey bee research in Australia

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For six decades, Australia’s commercial beekeepers have contributed to their industry’s research, development and extension (RD&E) needs through the honey levy. Since the levy was established in 1962, RD&E has contributed to strong biosecurity performance and policy support, increased honey production in the face of declining of floral resource availability, progress in repositioning Australian honey as a high-value health product, and strong growth in the demand for, and income earned from, pollination services.

Professional beekeepers who produce 1,500 kilograms or more of honey per calendar year pay a levy on their honey production. Levies collected are used to fund Australia’s emergency plant pest response, National Residue Survey testing, Plant Health Australia membership and RD&E activities. The Australian Government contributes matching funding to the RD&E component, the expenditure of which is managed by the AgriFutures Honey Bee & Pollination Program.

The Australian honey bee industry should be congratulated for its foresight and commitment to RD&E.

However, findings from RD&E projects funded in the early years of the levy that were not digitised have become increasingly difficult for the industry to obtain. In consultation with the industry, the AgriFutures Honey Bee & Pollination Advisory Panel identified that a compendium of honey bee research funded under the levy should be compiled. This compendium outlines the valuable work undertaken dating back to the inception of the Honey Industry Act in 1962, and details the major findings from projects investigating pests and disease, nutrition, genetic improvement, resources, pollination, off-farm issues, and communication and extension.

This compendium provides information that will help apiarists, the honey industry and the general public understand the diversity, breadth and purpose of the research undertaken, the outcomes of each project, the implications for the industry, and the key benefits for commercial apiarists.

The development of this compendium was funded by the honey levy and matching contributions from the Australian Government, and is an addition to AgriFutures Australia’s diverse range of research publications. It forms part of the AgriFutures Honey Bee & Pollination Program, which aims to ensure a productive, sustainable and profitable beekeeping industry, and secure the pollination of Australia’s horticultural and agricultural crops. Most of AgriFutures Australia’s publications are available for viewing, free download or purchase online at www.agrifutures.com.au.

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