Impacts of prescribed burning on the honeybee and pollination industries

The University of Sydney

  • Project code: PRO-016289

  • Project stage: Current

  • Project start date: Monday, January 30, 2023

  • Project completion date: Tuesday, April 30, 2024

  • National Priority: HBE-Improve understanding of floral resources as assets for the Australian honey bee industry


Hazard reduction burns are a key component of Australia’s fire mitigation strategy. Prescribed burning is done in strategic locations under optimal weather conditions as a method to reduce fuel loads. These burns aim to protect people and property by reducing the risk of major bushfire.

In Australia, beekeepers are highly dependent on native forests for floral resources, both in the understorey and overstorey. The impacts of bushfires were highlighted by the 2019-2020 bushfires which burned ~15.6 million hectares of forest. The 2019-2020 bushfires not only threatened the honey industry (down 50% since the fires, Clarke 2020), but also put pollination services at risk ($14.2 billion per annum, Karasinski 2018). Prescribed burns reduce these risks, but there is no consideration of the impact on beekeepers. The need to understand how frequency, timing, and intensity of prescribed  burns affects the honeybee and pollination industries.

The project will synthesise evidence on the effects of burns on honeybees. The project team will examine direct impacts of fire such as the removal of flower resources and indirect impacts including changes in nectar and pollen quality and flowering phenology. The project team will investigate the potential intersection of prescribed fires (location, extent, frequency, timing) on populations of plants that are important resources for honeybees. The project team will conduct case studies to generate economic impacts. Finally, the project team will identify research gaps in our understanding of how prescribed burning impact honeybees.


Honey Bee

Research Organisation

The University of Sydney