No ifs…no buts! No bees – no crops!
Well I’ve had a B day…not that there’s anything particularly unusual about that but spare a thought for New Zealand next month – they are going to have a Bee WEEK!
Fair enough, the bee industry world wide has had a B of a time in recent times what with drought and diseases reducing their numbers. The NZ Bee Week will buzz with “presentations on the value of honey products, the value of pollination, bees and agrichemicals, research and development and biosecurity” including the Varroa the most serious global honey pest. While it has established itself in the North Island of the land of the Long White Cloud, Australia as yet doesn’t have Varroa, but the expectation of Australia’s Departments of Industry is that its infiltration here is inevitable. Its appearance could well flush the Australian honey industry down the bidet.
But it won’t just be the honey industry going down the gurgler. Crops such as fruit in orchards and vegetables in market gardens rely heavily on the pollination of wild European honey bees first bought here from England in 1822. It has been estimated that the value of crops grown in Australia that require pollination by honey bees are estimated to be worth around $4 billion.
Come the Varroa influx and the expected subsequent collapse of wild bee colonies it will be down to the beekeepers to increase the number of their hives and strategically employ their charges for effective nationwide pollination. Already the boffins in Canberra have initiated Operation Pollination to develop an emergency plan.
There is a saying that bees in some way have contributed to one in every three mouthfuls of food we eat. So there’s a lot riding on the yellow and black. Fly straight and level little guys!