The Australian government has stepped up in a major way to help rectify the problems honey bees are facing in its country. The grant for $1 million (1.5 million Australian dollars) that was just issued by the Australian government is to “ensure bee health and longevity.” The grant was issued to AgriFutures Australia and the group will use the money to “fund activities to support the Australian honey bee industry and to promote the crucial role the humble bee plays in supporting food production.”
Bridget McKenzie, Australia’s Minister for Agriculture, stated, “The role of honey bees in agriculture and horticulture cannot be understated. The annual economic value of honey bee pollination in Australia is 14.2 billion Australian dollars (9.6 billion U.S. dollars). Pollination is essential for staples like apples and pears, cherries, berries, almonds and canola. That’s why we need to maintain the health of our bees and reduce risks to their population.” He further stated that the AgriFutures will “also support research to develop new non-obtrusive methods of hive assessment to enable early identification of bee and hive health problems.”
Problems for Honey Bees
For those of you that are not familiar with all the problems honey bees are facing these days, there are numerous factors this grant will hopefully be able to address. The one area that will surely benefit from this grant is a more in-depth study of the Varroa mite, at least we hope that is addressed. Beekeepers have to find a way to better treat this problem before it singlehandedly destroys the industry.
An area that would be very beneficiary is if researchers really dive into the construction of the manmade hives. Several experts have recently come forward to the way hives are currently put together is a real problem in the industry because they do not even come close to replicating the natural conditions of wild hives. I can’t help but wonder how hives built in the walls of someone’s home, as we recently wrote about, seem to thrive more than manmade hives from beekeepers.
Education for new beekeepers would also be an area that should be addressed. I can’t tell you how many times I have read articles on beekeeping blogs about feeding bees sugar water when that is widely considered to be dangerous by many experts in the field. The obvious solution is to not harvest so much honey from the hive just prior to the winter months so bees can survive off the food they are naturally supposed to eat, which of course is honey. This is just one example of the bad information beekeepers are being fed on the thousands of sites on the Internet.