Honeybee and Pollination Security CRC bid moving forward 13 Jul 2011

A bid to establish a Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Australia’s honeybee and pollination-dependent industries is gaining momentum. A submission will be put forward in 2012 with industry and research organisations expressing their on-going support for the bid.

Gerald Martin, Chairman of the Pollination R&D Program said the services provided by the honeybee industry are an agricultural keystone for Australia.

“A parliamentary report1 in 2008 recognised the importance of pollination to agriculture and horticulture, and the need for a national integrated R&D centre,” Mr Martin said.

“Australia relies heavily on the free pollination services provided by wild European honeybees, but this is under threat from exotic pests such as the Varroa mite.
“Global bee populations have seen devastating declines as this blood-sucking pest has spread from country to country.

“The United States, for instance, has lost more than a third of its honeybee colonies (around 1.8 million) within the past two years, resulting in increasing difficulty securing pollination services and raising production costs.

“While Australia is at present free of the Varroa mite, geographic isolation alone is unlikely to be an indefinite protection.”

“The vision is for the Honeybee and Pollination Security CRC to be a source and focus of ‘innovative science that supports a sustainable national beekeeping industry which delivers quality products and reliable services for pollination-dependent horticulture and agriculture,” said Mr Martin.

It will deliver tools, techniques and knowledge to honeybee and pollination reliant industries, complemented by an education program designed to meet end-users’ needs. Three key areas of research are envisaged: enhanced bee breeding and genetics; pest and pathogen control; and pollination enhancement and sustainability.

Preparation of the bid for the CRC is being funded by the Pollination Program, a research partnership between the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) and Horticulture Australia Limited (HAL).