The future of the humble honey bee is in safe hands thanks to a new Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) led by the University of Western Australia. While honey bees might be something that most people take for granted, their contribution to our lives and the economy cannot be overstated. The CRC will focus on maintaining healthy honey bee populations and increasing the economic potential of Australian honey bee products including honey, beeswax, pollen, royal jelly, venom and honey bee export.
This honey bee product industry is currently valued at around $125 million, however the numbers get very big when you start calculating the importance of honey bee pollination of Australia’s food crops. With 44 crops relying on honey bee pollination, the value of those crops at the farm gate alone is some $6.5 billion.
The research centre will draw on both academic and industry knowledge to secure Australia’s honey bee populations and to increase the value of the industry to attract and train new professional beekeepers and increase the number of hives. While Australia currently has 500,000 bee hives, 750,000 are required to qualify for pollination service security. And it is very fitting that WA is the home to this CRC as it has one of the healthiest bee populations in the world, with no antibiotic or chemical contamination from bee husbandry.