Research and development to sustain and improve high value honey production in Western Australia is being highlighted today (20 May) as part of World Bee Day.
The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) supports a range of research activities as a member of the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Honey Bee Products.
DPIRD agribusiness development consultant Gerard Leddin said the value of managed and wild honey bees to the agricultural and horticultural industries in Western Australia was estimated at $1.1billion because of their combined effect on ensuring pollination services.
“DPIRD is an active member of the Honey CRC which has a focus on developing the future potential of the local honey industry,” Mr Leddin said.
“Work focused on honey bee health and honey bee products allows the industry to better understand and promote the benefits and the quality of local honey.”
CRC CEO Liz Barbour said since starting in late 2017, the CRC had attracted more than 60 researchers from a diverse range of scientific, arts and engineering fields to focus on the honey bee.
“For the south-west of WA, the CRC has created a Geographic Information System database of honey bees favourite flora, tracked the timely production of nectar and pollen for their sustenance and equated the value of each floral zone for honey production,” Dr Barbour said.
“This is helping provide knowledge for a growing industry and allows them to harness crucial bee foraging resources.”
Dr Barbour said whilst WA was known for its Jarrah honey, amongst the WA flora the CRC genetically-defined a rare Leptospermum species that can produce the highest-grade of the Manuka honey.
Dr Barbour said protecting the integrity of local honey products was also important, particularly in export markets.
“Australia-wide, the honey bee industry has its own quality assurance system, B-QUAL, and the CRC partnership will provide the digital platform so that honey bee product traceability from our wild forests to customer can be assured,” she said.
World Bee Day raises awareness of the importance of bees and beekeeping, informing the public of beekeeping events around the world.