CRC Honey Bee Products

Existing Bee Flora

Project summary

200 years ago, when the prospect of honey production first captivated Australian settlers, the continent was covered in large tracts of native forest. Today, only a fraction remains (132Mha) with 8.7 Mha lost over the last 20 years. What was once a copious honey bee resource of flowering trees and shrubs, particularly Eucalypts and Banksia, is now reduced to the extent that is increasing beekeepers’ risk of accessing adequate resources; a trend reflected in the decline of Australia’s honey production. Contrasting this decline is the shift in agriculture from broad-acre cereal farming to a greater focus on oil crops, perennial pastures and horticulture, with most requiring pollination services for enhanced productivity.

This sub-program focussed on mapping the melliferous floral resource across the nation, highlighting the impact of climate change on future floral resources, the role wild and managed fires are having on resource decline, and the changed economic status of the beekeeping industry and precarious beekeeper access to floral resources. In Australia, most agriculture industries own their land, whereas beekeepers are visitors, with their visit frequency determined by the reproductive health of the bush. This research provided tools to assist beekeepers and land managers manage the resource and beekeeper business operations within the context of changing political and environmental conditions.

Project focus

  • Output 1: B-Spatial – an apiary site decision support tool
  • Output 2: B-Agent, an agent-based model for identifying impacts on resource access
  • Output 3: B-Harmony, a stakeholder engagement tool that gives voice to the environment
  • Output 4: Flower-visitor monitoring system