AgriFutures Honey Bee and Pollination Program Targeted Open Call

AgriFutures Australia investments are driven by Strategic RD&E Plans that address the needs of industries and stakeholders, and ensure our priorities are industry and government-driven. Our aim is to increase knowledge that fosters sustainable, productive new and existing rural industries and further understanding of national rural issues through research and developing in government-industry partnership.

AgriFutures Australia is seeking proposals which only address at least one of the following strategies: honey bee sugar supplementary feeding, honey bee protein supplementary feeding, small hive beetle external trap, alternative floral resources, review of the security of tenure on public lands, impact of hazard reduction burns on beekeeping floral resources, and review of levied research. Further details follow.

The AgriFutures Honey Bee and Pollination Program open call closes 12 noon AEDT Thursday, 11 February 2021

Open call overview

In planning and submitting proposals for AgriFutures Australia-funded projects, prospective researchers need to familiarise themselves with the application procedure, the Corporation’s overarching goals and strategies, the goals and strategies of the relevant R&D program, and the specific priorities for R&D for the year for which the proposal is being submitted.

We also welcome and encourage your collaboration with other research providers to build the critical research mass necessary to meet our objectives.

RD&E objectives

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;

  1. 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.
  1. Desktop research

Review of the security of tenure on public lands

Currently, most states lack policies that provide resource security for beekeepers. Beekeepers rely on permits that provide no compensation when the floral resource is degraded by timber harvest or controlled burn, and apiary permits can also be terminated at short notice. Certain tenures do not provide property rights in the same way that a business or individual with a water licence, or an oyster production licence on a public land is protected. A desktop based review will:

  • Examine the current legal status of tenure across jurisdictions.
  • Determine current property rights compared to other users of the public estate.
  • Compare apiary permits with water licences, fisheries licences and oyster production licences in public lands.
  • Examine the scope available to issue beekeepers comparable rights to other natural resource users.
  • Consider any state government arguments for resisting changes to public lands tenure.
  • Develop an understanding of the positive impact on beekeeper business certainty.
  • Complete state by state analysis and identify best practice policy.
  • Provide insights from analysis to guide future policy developments.

Impact of hazard reduction burns on beekeeping floral resources

The summer of 2019/2020 saw unprecedented fires across of Australia. As a result, there is a possibility there may be a reinvigorated call for hazard reduction burns across floral resources in Australia. With a call for greater or different hazard reduction burns there may be a need for beekeepers to provide comment on the possible impact on honey bees, honey production and honey bee businesses. Undertaking a review of the available scientific studies will provide consolidated information to be available to be used for comment. A desktop based review will:

  • Examine the frequency of hazard reduction burns and the impact on floral resources.
  • Provide an understanding of what information is currently available on the topic.
  • Establish the impact of hazard reduction burns on floral resources and honey bees/honey production
  • Provide a cost and/or impact analysis of hazard reduction burns for beekeepers, including the development of case studies that cover to breadth hazard reduction burns and impacts on beekeepers e.g. cool versus hot burns

Levied research compendium

The honey levy was introduced in 1962, and has been used to commission almost 30 years of high impact honey bee research under the administration of a number of organisations, including Honey Research Council, and AgriFutures Australia (formally Rural Industries Research Development Corporation). The purpose of this work is to highlight the importance of the decades of research, and the importance of long-term research, to honey beekeepers and the research community across Australia. In this call, we are seeking a review of the investment outputs made since 1962, and the development of two useable research outputs; a searchable database of reports and a compendium of summaries. It is expected this desktop review will include:

  • Identify research outputs e.g. final reports, summaries, journal articles and any other relevant documents. This may include consultation with industry to source documents.
  • Document and record original documents, scanned, and placed in chronological order in a metadata searchable central database.
  • Generate a list of all research conducted, and a short summary of each project, to be delivered in an AgriFutures agreed format.

Research proposals that address other topics will not be considered in this open call.

Proposals should clearly indicate the following:

  • The project benefits for growers.
  • The objectives and outcomes of the proposed project and the link to the R&D objectives.
  • Who will be undertaking the majority of the work, including statistical analysis (it must be clear if new staff and/or students are to be employed to undertake the work).
  • The plan for extension of research outcomes from the project activity work, i.e. beyond distribution of summaries and conference presentations.
  • Where relevant, proposals should include collaboration with experts in the field, which may not be located in Australia.
  • The researcher’s understanding of past research in this field.

Researcher submission checklist

The researcher must complete the checklist prior to the submission being accepted:

  • If the project requires statistical analysis, has a qualified statistician been engaged to undertake project design and data analyses?
  • Is the Principal Investigator an early career researcher (less than five years since postgraduate study completion)?
  • Has the proposal been discussed with AgriFutures Australia?
  • Has the proposal been discussed with people in the Program industry?
  • Does the proposal identify if the work potentially relates to the Program objective?
  • Does the proposal clearly identify who will be undertaking the bulk of the work (might not necessarily be the Principal Investigator)?
  • Does the proposal clearly articulate what the applied outcome for industry will be? (even if it is a long-term applied project there should still be a focus on an applied outcome).
  • Does the proposal clearly outline what the potential process might be for identifying extension opportunities? (Excluding publications and opportunities for presenting the work at conferences).
  • Does the proposal take into consideration where the international expertise is in the area of research?
  • The Principal Investigator must comply with the application process within K2.

How to make a submission

AgriFutures Australia is moving to a new online project management system, K2. This system will manage all stages of project administration and will eventually replace our current system, Clarity.

Applications for this Open Call must be submitted online using the PRP application in K2.

If you had a previous account in Clarity, you can login using your Clarity user name or email address and the initial password K2pass! You will be prompted to reset this initial password when you login. If at any time you forget your password, you can also reset it via a forgotten password link on the login page.

Click here to login to K2 

If you do not have a Clarity login you must create a K2 account before submitting a proposal. To set up a secure account before submitting a proposal, contact the AgriFutures Australia helpdesk for a username and password by emailing

Usernames and passwords will only be issued while the applicable round is open.

If you require assistance, please contact

Research contracts

AgriFutures Australia uses a standard form contract for R&D projects (Research Agreement), which sets out the terms on which AgriFutures Australia will engage successful applicants to carry out the project.

Applicants must be familiar with the Research Agreement before lodging Preliminary Research Proposals (PRPs), and are advised to seek legal advice on it before lodging a PRP.

Read Research Agreement
The Research Agreement has been developed to reflect AgriFutures Australia’s statutory and other responsibilities in funding projects. AgriFutures Australia will generally not negotiate substantive amendments to any clauses of the Agreement unless:

  • It is satisfied that exceptional circumstances exist that require amendment to the standard form; and
  • The applicant completes a statement of non-compliance for each of those clauses.

Applicants will be taken to have agreed to all clauses in the Research Agreement that are not referred to in a statement of non-compliance. The extent of any non-compliance will be a factor in AgriFutures Australia’s evaluation of the application.

If you require further information regarding the Research Agreement, contact Erin Hulm, Manager, Legal Services:


Researchers are strongly advised to contact the Manager, Research prior to submitting a proposal.

Annelies McGaw

Manager, Research – Honey Bees and Pollination Program

0407 987 738

The AgriFutures Honey Bee and Pollination Program open call closes 12 noon AEDT Thursday, 11 February 2021