The Australian Honeybee Industry produces around 30,000 tonnes of honey each year, as well as products like beeswax, live bees, and royal jelly, collectively worth around $65 million. In addition, the industry provides pollination services worth over $1.7 billion to other agricultural industries.
Commercial Beekeeping in Australia â€“ a new publication from the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) â€“ provides a comprehensive overview of the Australian beekeeping industry. It describes the physical and cultural environment in which beekeeping is undertaken and gives details of production methods commonly employed by beekeepers.
â€œBeekeeping in Australia has developed to meet our unique climate and flora,â€ said Margie Thomson, RIRDC General Manager for Research, â€œAustralian beekeepers have shown great ingenuity in devising methods of production and patterns of management that have led to a successful national beekeeping industry.â€
The industry is made up of over 9000 registered beekeepers that manage over 600,000 hives. With over 25 per cent of honey exported each year, the price received by commercial beekeepers depends on both domestic and international demand for honey products. There is also a growing market for pollination services and queen bees.
â€œBeekeepers have been assisted in their endeavours, particularly in recent years, by world standard research,â€ Ms Thomson said.
â€œRIRDC, through its Honeybee Research and Development program, is pleased to be a vital part of the national apicultural research effort,â€ she said.
The publication provides key statistics and information on the honeybee industry, and explains the key industry opportunities and threats.
One significant threat to the industry is the varroa mite, which can spread rapidly, killing off entire honeybee colonies.
â€œAt the moment this pest has spread to nearly every country, with Australia being virtually the only exception,â€ Ms Thomson said.
â€œRIRDC is working with the industry, as well as with those industries dependant on honeybee pollination services, to ensure that we provide the best possible protection and preparedness for the varroa threat,â€ she said.
The Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation is a partnership between the Australian Government and industry to fund and manage priority research across three key areas â€“ new rural industries, selected established industries, and national rural issues.
â€œThrough innovation Australiaâ€™s rural industriesâ€”like the honeybee industryâ€”are continuously growing more productive, more resilient and more sustainable,â€ Ms Thomson said.
Commercial Beekeeping in Australia (Second Edition), is aavailable from RIRDC â€“ visit www.rirdc.gov.au
or phone 02 6272 4218 for more information.