Australian government funding totalling $7million will underwrite a new ‘Honey Bee Products’ research centre led by the University of Western Australia.
To be spent over the next five years, the funding is being matched by a further $19.2million in cash and kind from other universities and from private sector organisations including Capilano.
Dr Liz Barbour from the Uni WA’s office of research enterprise is leading the initiative and acting as the Centre’s chief executive until a permanent CEO is appointed later this year.
Honey bee hive sites Barbour said that the Centre’s work would be focused in four main programme areas:
- Honey bee sites
- Honey bee product
- Honey bee health
- Honey bee product marketing and education
Dr Barbour said that the Centre aims to increase both the overall value of Australian honey production, and its perceived value in the community.
“The low price of most honey bee products from Australia doesn’t reflect their unique and pure qualities.”
“Australia, especially Western Australia, has one of the healthiest honey bee populations in the world so no antibiotics or chemicals from bee husbandry contaminate the products” she added.
News of the funding win was revealed on 17th March following the government’s announcement of the latest funding round of its Co-operative Research Centres (CRC) programme.
A statement was also released by the university and said that the new CRC will develop a research network with other bee and apiculture research centres around the world..
They will include the apiculture research centre at the University of California that has recently succeeded in head-hunting Dr Boris Bauer, currently director of the Centre for Integrated Bee Research (CIBER) at Uni WA.
Dr Barbour said that the departure of Dr Bauer won’t mean the end of the CIBER institute at the Uni WA although the work of the new CRC will be separate to CIBER’s programmes.
She said that the new CRC has some 19 different industry and community partners, including ChemCentre, PathWest, the Bee Industry Council of WA (BICWA) and training organisations, including the Yanchep Beach Joint Training Venture (JTV).
According to a report in the North Coast Times the new CRC will be based at the Yanchep Beach JTV’s Innovation Hub, approximately 60km north of Perth
Dr Barbour said that basing the CRC for Honey Bee Products in Yanchep would put it closer to the Southern Beekeepers nature reserve near Cervantes.
“We want to make it the centre of beekeeping in the west,” she said.
Working with the Yanchep Institute will also be a key part of the CRC’s efforts to expand the supply of trained beekeepers in Australia with a Certificate IV in Beekeeping.
The new CRC will also be working with start-up businesses and community organisations such as the Sydney-based Gatherby.org to help expand Australian Manuka honey production.