My research aims to understand the contribution of floral resources to colony and population health of honeybees and native bees, and to devise appropriate farmlevel floral enhancement schemes in collaboration with local apple growers and Greening Australia. I am also investigating how key foraging resources will be affected by climate change (specifically, elevated temperature), particularly in terms of the timing, quality and quantity of nectar and pollen available to bees. I employ a variety of methods including largescale manipulative field and glasshouse experiments exploring the availability and quality of native floral resources across different seasons, the impact of climate change manipulations on floral resource quality and attractiveness to pollinators, and factors influencing pollinator choice for foraging on plants.
Western Sydney University
The funds acquired through this grant will enable the analysis of pollen samples collected from honey bees returning to hives; this will be undertaken using next generation sequencing approaches for metabarcoding, based on two genes.My study will identify key floral resources of one of the most important managed pollinators of Australian crops, the honey bee. Foraging preferences and diets of honey bees will be compared between a commercially available nonnative (exotic) wildflower seed mix and an Australian native seed mix that I have developed in collaboration with Greening Australia. Further, I will determine how the availability of native and exotic plant species and associated floral resourceuse by honey bees changes throughout the year. This study will address the following questions: (i) What noncrop floral resources are used by economically important honey bees and how does this change throughout the year? (ii) What are the key plant species used outside of the crop flowering season? (iii) Do honey bees preferentially forage for pollen from native versus exotic plant species? I will address my research questions by examining pollen balls collected (with pollen traps) from bees returning to hives, for four hives once a month over a oneyear period.
Project Start Date
Thursday, June 11, 2020
Project Completion Date
Wednesday, June 30, 2021
Journal Articles From Project
An environmentally sustainable Australia
HBE-Improve understanding of floral resources as assets for the Australian honey bee industry