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Australian beekeepers show hive of activity around research 16 Dec 2016

Nearly three quarters of Australian beekeeping businesses changed their management practices in 2014-15 as a result of research, according to a national survey.

The recently released ABARES Australian Honey Bee Industry Survey was conducted throughout 2016, and collected information from beekeeping businesses across Australia (excluding the ACT and the Northern Territory) about financial performance, pollination services, biosecurity, public land use and research uptake.

Chairman of the Honey Bee and Pollination Program R&D Advisory Panel, Michael Hornitzky, said the results around research uptake were incredibly encouraging.

“The percentage of beekeeping businesses changing their practices as a result of research is of huge significance for a program like ours,” Dr Hornitzky said.

“The results reinforce our commitment to providing significant funding and support to research and development for the betterment of the beekeeping and broader pollination sectors.”

More than 50 per cent of beekeepers surveyed said that research on pests, diseases and biosecurity had benefited their business, and a further 47 per cent said they’d received strong benefits from research around the role of flora in honey bee management.

Dr Hornitzky said the statistics also provided reassurance that investment in research was assisting in boosting production, and keeping beekeepers profitable.

“The majority of beekeepers reported that production had gone up between five and 24 per cent over the past five years as a result of research, and more encouragingly in Western Australia, where 20 per cent of beekeeping businesses reported an increase in production of more than 50 percent,” he said.

The Honey Bee and Pollination Program currently funds 14 research projects, with 5 of them having started this year.

Research topics include active Australian Leptospermum honey, small hive beetle traps, reducing the impact of Nosema and viruses through improving honey bee nutrition and improving biosecurity resources, and honey bee health in Australia.

The ABARES survey was funded by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, as part of the Australian Government’s response to a recommendation from the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport References Committee report on the future of the beekeeping and pollination service industries in Australia.

For more information about the Honey Bee and Pollination Program, go to www.rirdc.gov.au/honeybee-pollination