Bees Vital Role In Food Production

Bees Vital Role In Food Production

Victoria Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh

Bees Get To Work Securing State’s Food Supplies

Victor P Taffa

The vital role bees play in the state’s food chain will be on show near Robinvale over the next few weeks as more than 100,000 bee hives are shipped in to pollinate the state’s blossoming almond orchards.

Visiting the area today, Agriculture and Food Security Minister Peter Walsh said 180 apiarists had been contracted to supply the hives to pollinate 42,000 hectares of almonds and other crops in the area including avocados, melons, zucchinis and plums.

“In most areas there are not enough wild or feral honeybee colonies to provide adequate Pollination.” Mr. Walsh said.

“Growers wanting maximum pollination need to hire honeybee colonies from apiarists to ensure satisfactory bee populations in their orchards at flowering.”

“For almonds, cross-pollination is essential, and 5 to 8 colonies of bees per hectare need to be distributed evenly throughout the orchard to ensure trees are productive.”

“In the May budget the Victorian Coalition Government committed to investing an extra $400,000 this financial year to protect and grow this industry.”

“$250,000 will be spent on increasing Victoria’s capacity to detect and respond to the exotic varroa mite if it ever arrives in Victoria and $150,000 is being spent to reinstate beekeeping licences on public land.”

“Australia in the only continent still free of varroa mite but if it establishes here it will decimate our honey bee population.”

Nationals Member for Mildura Peter Crisp said overall it was estimated the true value of the apiary industry to Victoria was more than $400 Million a year.

“Almonds are not the only crop whose existence relies on bees.” Mr. Crisp said.

“About 65 % of agricultural and horticultural production, including many kinds of commonly grown fruit, relies to some extent on pollination and many of these industries depend heavily on apiarists.”

“Some fruit trees may carry thousands of flowers, but unless there is adequate pollination, little if any fruit will be produced.” Mr. Crisp said.