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.

Industry Advisory Panel

AgriFutures Australia is committed to working with industry to deliver research and development outcomes. We work in partnership with advisory panels to decide on research priorities and to make investment decisions each year.

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.

Research open call

AgriFutures Australia seeks research project proposals through an open call process aligned with individual program research priorities. An open call will not be conducted within the AgriFutures™ Honey Bee & Pollination Program during 2018/19 due to drought conditions that have impacted program income.

Contact

Annelies McGaw
Program Manager, Research & Innovation
02 6923 6913
0407 987 738
Annelies.McGaw@agrifutures.com.au

Related Publications

12.12.18

Reducing the impact of Nosema and viruses through improved honey bee nutrition

05.12.18

Fact sheet: Artificial insemination of honey bee queens - how many mates is enough?

05.12.18

Fact sheet: Mating for queen quality

16.11.18

External attractant trap for small hive beetle

Related Resources

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AgriFutures Honey Bee & Pollination Program Industry Update Nov 2018

Project updates from our AgriFutures Honey Bee & Pollination Program.

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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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Bee Friendly: A planting guide for European honeybees and Australian native pollinators

This guide gives ideas and choices of species to bring about improved outcomes for honeybees and the Australian pollen - and nectar - using fauna, including mammals, insects and birds.

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Catching Small Hive Beetle: How to prepare and deploy lantern traps

A Queensland-based research team led by Dr Diana Leemon has completed a three-year research project as part of the AgriFutures™ Honey Bee and Pollination Program, investigating the development of an external attractant trap for SHB in an attempt to reduce numbers affecting hives.

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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.

Watch Video

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.

Watch Video

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.

Watch Video

Providing a pollination service - 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

Watch Video

Constructing & repairing bee hives - 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.

Watch Video

Artificial insemination (AI) of queen bees - a 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 - the use of 'how to' videos to communicate such information is an effective method of education

Watch Video

Latest News and Events

22.08.18

Could eucalyptus honey cure an unhealthy gut?

Gut health is a hot topic right now and honey has joined the conversation. We spoke with our researcher for the AgriFutures™ Honey Bee & Pollination Program, Dr Nural Cokcetin from the University of Technology Sydney, on her project that aims to increase the value of Australian honey as a health food.

24.07.18

Honey Bee & Pollination Program abuzz with key research hitting strategic targets

The AgriFutures™ Honey Bee & Pollination Program is a hive of activity with a number of research projects achieving key outcomes outlined in the five-year RD&E Plan and a major industry event offering a chance to share program updates.