Newsletter for the Rotary Club of Western Endeavour - Issue No.: 930 Issue Date: 27 Sep, 2020

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Bees Are Important

10th June 2020

This morning’s talk by Dr Liz Barbour was remarkably interesting and fact filled.

Here I have tried to summarise some of the information I gleaned:

Dr Barbour is the CEO of the Cooperative Research Centre for Honey Bee Products.

This Federally funded Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) researches all aspects of honey production and has created a geographic information database of honey bees’ favourite flora. It tracks the timely production of nectar and pollen for their sustenance and equates the value of each floral zone for honey production.

Honey production is a $125 million industry.

Bees pollinate 52 food producing crops or one third of the food we eat so it is essential that bee health and population is maintained.

While Australia is known for its peroxide-bioactive Eucalypt honeys, amongst the flora the CRC define as genetically bioactive, it is Leptospermum (tea trees) species that can produce the highest-grade Manuka honey.

Honey has antibacterial and antioxidant properties and is effective against Golden Staphylococcal bacteria.

There is a world shortage of bees and it is important to protect the integrity of local honey products, particularly in export markets.

The CRC studies the chemistry of honey and has means of detecting whether the honey has been adulterated or the bees fed with artificial sugars. The source of the honey can be traced by the chemical analysis and by analysis of pollen. This leads to the Australia-wide quality assurance system, B-QUAL, so that the quality of honey going from our wild forests to customers can be assured with the award of the “Made in Australia kangaroo logo”. “We are lucky that Australia is God’s own country for honey bees.” Dr Barbour said.

Apart from the W.A. wheat belt, where clearing has removed virtually all flora, there is a wide range of 200 species of honey producing flora. I learnt that the Karri only flowers every 20 years, that bee migration is the largest migration of any animals and that bee keepers  move the hives to follow the migration but this is not visible as they do this at night.

Finally, a few statistics: In WA there are 2900 registered bee keepers and 44000 hives this is made up of 13290 Amateur, 11292 Part-time and 19030 Commercial Producers.

Author: Barrie Heald

Published: 12 June, 2020


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