The AgriFutures Australia Honey Bee and Pollination Program aims to support RD&E that will ensure a productive, sustainable and more profitable Australian beekeeping industry and secure the pollination of Australia’s horticultural and agricultural crops.

Key components of the program

Key components of this program include increasing productivity and profitability of beekeepers, reducing the incidence and impact of pests and diseases, and increasing understanding of the role of flora in honey bee management.

About the industry

The Australian honey bee industry produces between 20,000 and 30,000 tonnes of honey annually, with approximately 5000 tonnes exported to destinations such as Singapore, Malaysia, UAE, China and Hong Kong. Seventy per cent of Australian honey is produced from native flora.

While honey is the major commercial output of the honey bee industry, there are a number of other products that add to the income of honey bee businesses, including paid pollination services, beeswax production, queen bee and packaged bee sales.

In 2016, the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) determined the gross value of production (GVP) of the beekeeping industry as $98 million. This relatively small GVP understates the industry’s value to agriculture and the economy in general through pollination services and, potentially, the value of honey and honey products in medical uses.

There are approximately 12,400 registered beekeepers in Australia with around 528,000 hives (AHBIC 2014). Over 70 per cent of hives are operated by commercial beekeepers with more than 200 hives. Most commercial apiarists operate between 400 to 800 hives and some have more than 3000.

The beekeeping industry faces a number of risks, including the entry and spread of exotic pests and diseases (for example, the Varroa mite), economic pressures on the honey producing industry and reduced access by beekeepers to areas of native flora. The impact of an exotic pest or disease incursion is considered the most significant risk.

Funding

The program is funded by statutory levies paid by industry participants. This levy revenue is matched by AgriFutures Australia at up to 0.5 per cent of GVP.

RD&E plan

The Honey Bee and Pollination Program Five Year RD&E Plan 2014/15 – 2018/19  has identified five high-impact, far-reaching objectives to benefit the industry:

  • reduce the incidence and impact of pests and diseases on the beekeeping and pollination services industries
  • increase the productivity and profitability of beekeepers
  • increase understanding of the role of flora in honey bee management
  • understand the role of pollination in delivering more productive systems
  • promote extension, communication and capacity building

Research will be funded by the combined investments of Horticulture Innovation Australia (HIA) and AgriFutures Australia.

Contact

Dr Melanie Bradley
Program Manager, Research & Innovation

02 6923 6913

0407 987 738

melanie.bradley@agrifutures.com.au

Australian Honey Bee Industry Council
Hort Innovation’s Pollination Fund
Cooperative Research Centre for Honey Bee Products

Related Publications

25.06.12

Preparing for Varroa – Preparing for Varroa – How susceptible are Australian honey bee stocks? Project summary

22.02.17

Risk assessment for Large African Hive Beetle – Project Summary

01.09.15

Development of a Code of Practice and National Bee Biosecurity Program

03.02.17

Regional Economic Multiplier Impacts Potential Pollinator Deficits across Crops

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Honey Bee and Pollination Program Five Year Research, Development & Extension Plan 2014/15 – 2018/19

This Five Year Plan outlines the investments that will encompass the RIRDC Honey Bee and Pollination RD&E Program

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Hygienic Behaviour Testing Methods – a best practice video from the Honey Bee & Pollination Program

Lindsay Bourke from Australian Honey Products in Launceston, Tasmania, explains his technique for testing bees for hygienic behavior, and the importance of the practice to limit pest and disease incursions.

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The Barrier Management System – a best practice video from the Honey Bee & Pollination Program

Dave Leyland from Western Australia’s Bees Neez Apiaries explains how he implements the Barrier Management System in his day to day activities to maximise biosecurity.

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Breeding Queen Bees – a video from the Honey Bee & Pollination Program

Robbie Charles from Tasmania’s Blue Hills Honey demonstrates his preferred best practice methods for breeding Queen Bees.

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Breeding Queen Bees – a best practice video from the Honey Bee & Pollination Program

Two of Australia’s best apiarists’ demonstrate their preferred best practice method for breeding Queen Bees.

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Preparing live bees for export – a best practice video from the Honey Bee & Pollination Program

Tasmanian apiarist Lindsay Bourke demonstrates best practice when preparing live bees for export.

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Selecting an apiary site - a 'how to' video from the Honey Bee & Pollination Program

Effective education of established and new beekeepers will encourage adoption of best management practices, which is important for the long term future of the industry.

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Re-queening a honey bee colony - a 'how to' video from the Honey Bee & Pollination Program

Effective education of established and new beekeepers will encourage adoption of best management practices, which is important for the long term future of the industry.

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Providing a pollination service - a 'how to' video from the Honey Bee & Pollination Program

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Constructing & repairing bee hives - a 'how to' video from the Honey Bee & Pollination Program

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Artificial insemination (AI) of queen bees - a video from the Honey Bee & Pollination Program

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