One third of Australian food that ends up on our plate is dependent on honey bee pollination. From almonds to avocados to the meat we eat, honey bees are vital for the pollination and production of many of our favourite foods.

With targeted investment the AgriFutures Honey Bee & Pollination Program supports research, development and extension (RD&E) that ensures a productive, sustainable and profitable beekeeping industry and secure the pollination of Australia’s horticultural and agricultural crops.

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.

  1. Identify and develop technology for improved hive performance
  2. Increase capacity within the research community and future industry leaders
  3. Improve understanding of nutrition best practice and disease interaction
  4. Improve understanding of the benefits of honey and develop chain traceability
  5. Improve understanding of pollination strategies that impact crop yields and improve hive health
  6. 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.

Funding

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.

Program news

Contact

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

Related projects

About your levy

Australian primary industries that choose to invest in the levies system prescribe the amount of levy or charge applied to a commodity under the Primary Industries (Customs) Charges Act 1999Primary Industries (Excise) Levies Act 1999, National Residue Survey (Customs) Levy Act 1998 and the National Residue Survey (Excise) Levy Act 1998.

Levy and charge revenue can be directed to biosecurity preparedness and emergency plant pest and animal disease responses, residue testing, marketing and research and development. It is the decision of a primary industry to determine the proportion of how a levy or charge is directed to each of these activities.

The Levy is collected and distributed via the Department of Agriculture. For more information, visit the Department of Agriculture Water and the Environment website.

AgriFutures Australia also receives Commonwealth matching funding based on 0.5% of the aggregate GVP of all AgriFutures Australia’s levied industries (Arena 3) or half of AgriFutures Australia’s eligible expenditure – whichever is the lesser. This includes expenditure in non-levied industries Arenas 1, 2 and 4 irrespective of their funding source.

 

AgriFutures Australia’s Board allocates the Commonwealth matching funding to each levied industry program. The respective programs will receive 50c per dollar of eligible expenditure (subject to availability of Commonwealth matching funding).

The total program budget comprises of the R&D levy allocation, Commonwealth matching funding (allocated by the AgriFutures Australia Board) and third party contributions (where appropriate).

View the AgriFutures Honey Bee & Pollination Program income and expenditure for 2020-21 statement.

Latest News and Events

12.08.22

Bee quick: New honey bee and pollination development grants to boost the industry

AgriFutures Honey Bee & Pollination Program Industry Development Grants are now open for the 2022-23 application period. 

27.06.22

Inaugural winners of the Australian Bee Tech Challenge announced

Joining the global movement to adopt innovative technologies to safeguard bee populations around the world, AgriFutures Honey Bee and Pollination Program in partnership with the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council (AHBIC) have announced LB AgTech, HiveKeepers and CRC for Honey Bee Products as the winners of the inaugural Bee Tech Challenge.  

Related Publications

26.07.22

Palatability and utilisation of protein supplements

15.07.22

Multi-point honey bee monitoring in glasshouses and polytunnels

11.07.22

Bee Informed: A celebration of 60 years of honey bee research in Australia

11.07.22

AgriFutures Honey Bee & Pollination Program 2022 RD&E Snapshot

Related Resources

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 honey bees and the Australian pollen - and nectar - using fauna, including mammals, insects and birds.

Read more

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.

Watch Video

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.

Watch Video

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.

Watch Video

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.

Watch Video

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.

Watch Video

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