The AgriFutures Honey Bee & Pollination Program aims to fund projects that reflect and respond to industry needs and concerns.
Guided by the Strategic RD&E Plan AgriFutures Honey Bee & Pollination Program is focused on developing technology for hive performance and increasing industry capacity for research and leadership. The Plan also provides guidance for strategies to improve industry understanding of nutrition best practice, the benefits of honey and developing chain traceability, pollination strategies, and the role of floral resources as assets for the Australian honey bee industry.
Developed in consultation with honey bee and pollination stakeholders the AgriFutures Honey Bee & Pollination Strategic RD&E Plan (2020-2025) outlines six key objectives.
- Identify and develop technology for improved hive performance
- Increase capacity within the 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.
About Australia’s honey bee and pollination industry
The Australian honey bee and pollination industry is a significant contributor to the economy, not only in terms of honey production but as provider of pollination services for agriculture and horticulture. It’s estimated the annual total contribution of the humble honey bee to the Australian economy is $14.2 billion.
The industry has changed significantly since 1962 when commercial beekeepers began contributing to an industry levy. There has been a 10-fold increase in recreational beekeeping and the average number of hives managed by a commercial beekeeper has increased from 156 in 1962 to 299 hives in 2018.
The Australian honey bee industry supports 1,800 highly skilled commercial beekeepers and approximately 530,000 commercially managed hives across Australia that are available to deliver paid pollination services. For example in 2019, the almond industry hired 180,000 hives for crop pollination.
On average, honey production in Australia, including commercial and recreational production, is 37,000 tonnes. In a typical year 70 per cent of Australian honey is produced from native flora.
The main honey production period is from October to March each year and August to October is the major pollination season.
The Honey Bee & Pollination Program is funded by statutory levies paid by industry participants. This levy was revised in July 2018. AgriFutures Australia also receives matching funding from the Australian Government, allocated to the Program at 50c per dollar of the program’s eligible expenditure. Between 2014 and 2018 the Australian Government contributions to the AgriFutures Honey Bee & Pollination Program averaged approximately $405,000 per annum.
RD&E investments are guided by the Strategic RD&E Plan and recommendations are made by the Honey Bee & Pollination Advisory Panel.
Annelies McGaw Manager, Research
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