AgriFutures Australia welcomes Preliminary Research Proposals, including post-graduate scholarships, that address one or more of the strategies within the three R&D objectives for the industry, and outlined in the AgriFutures Honey Bee & Pollination Strategic RD&E Plan (2020-2025)
The broad RD&E objectives are:
- Identify and develop technology for improved hive performance.
- Increase capacity within research community and future industry leaders.
- Improve understanding of nutrition best practice and disease interaction.
- Improve understanding of the benefits of honey and develop chain traceability.
- Improve understanding of pollination strategies that impact crop yields and improve hive health.
- Improve understanding of floral resources as assets for the Australian honey bee industry.
For this open call AgriFutures Australia is only accepting proposals that address at least one of the following strategies;
- Field research
Honey bee sugar supplementary feeding
Supplementary feeding strategies are currently challenged due to changes in hive management, the impact of drought and fire on floral resources, a decline in weed species, changes in land management practices, and growth in the pollination service sector. Key to managing the impact of these challenges is to generate an understanding of nutrition, and how nutrition can be developed to suit the changing needs of beekeepers. Research is to address:
- Frequency, concentration, and quantity of sugar to stimulate bee breeding.
- Maintenance of bees, dry sugar, or thick syrup for stores re over winter or drought feeding.
- Do these strategies risk contaminating honey extractions in the form of sugar residues? While one sugar feeding method produces excellent results in stimulating hive population growth, how does this rate for potential contamination of extracted honey following sugar feeding?
Honey bee protein supplementary feeding
Further to the above projects, protein supplementation requires further investigation to meet the changing needs of beekeepers. Research is to address:
- Effectiveness of protein supplement on hive population maintenance, expansion, and bee longevity
Small hive beetle Aethina tumida (SHB) external trap
If the predicted wet summer arrives, SHB will once again become a major issue for apiaries in the warm eastern parts of Australia, causing significant hive losses. This project is to build on the previous project (PRJ-009334) that provided the foundation for developing an external trap for SHB. This project demonstrated that an external trap can keep SHB at low numbers in an apiary, however, the “lure” in the trap is a living mix of yeast that needs to be refreshed regularly. The trap developed from PRJ-009334 project was an “off the shelf” fly trap, which may not be the most efficient type of trap. The research needs to include testing with commercial beekeepers and is to develop:
- Pheromone/synthetic lure to trap small hive beetle.
- A trap that is external to the hive.
- A lure that only requires replacement every few weeks or longer.
Alternative floral resources
As a result of the recent bushfires beekeepers have needed to look further afield for floral resources. One way to address the need for floral resources is to consider the role pastures can play in the provision of floral resources for honey bees. There are a number of pasture legumes that have been developed for the livestock and cropping systems, which could provide an alternative floral resource for honey bees. The nutritional value for honey bees of these pasture legumes is mostly unknown. Developing an understanding the floral attributes of pasture legume varieties will benefit the honey bee industry. This research is to address:
- Nectar production and quality of pasture legume species and varieties.
- Timing and duration of flowering of pasture legume species and varieties across geographic locations.
- Take farming practices into consideration regarding impact to beekeeping activities, and production of flora, nectar and pollen.
- Develop tools and documents to allow the development of seed mixes for a variety of beekeeping regions.