The AgriFutures™ 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% 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. Half of program expenditure, including R&D expenditure, is matched by the Australian Government at up to 0.5% of industry 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.

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

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