Next time you’re spreading honey on your toast, take a moment to reflect on the effort expended by the worker bees to create your sweet condiment. About 300 bees labour for three weeks to accumulate sufficient honey for a 450-gram jar.
Bees are big business in Australia. Honey bee products generate $125 million annually. But that’s just a tiny fraction of the economic value of bees. Honey bee pollination of Australian food crops represents over 100 times that: $14 billion.
‘We have seen honey bee declines elsewhere in the world. The recent New South Wales infestation of varroa mite, which is deadly to bees, highlights our industry’s challenges,’ says Dr Liz Barbour, CEO of the CRC for Honey Bee Products.
The CRC closes this year, having completed over 40 research projects, many of which have forged strong industry links. Achievements include digitising the traceability system that tracks honey to its origins, creating novel techniques for detecting diseases such as American foulbrood, helping beekeepers find flowering plant resources to keep their bees healthy, and contributions to expanding Australia’s high-value Manuka honey production including research on its medicinal qualities.
‘We have delivered research, resources, decision-support tools and novel technologies to develop and grow the Australian honey bee products industry and address some of the industry’s key barriers and challenges,’ says Dr Barbour.
The CRC is collating its achievements into a legacy document and website that will serve as a valuable resource for the industry and researchers for years to come.
For more information, click here.