Protecting the Environment

I’ve heard about declining numbers of bees around the world and colony collapse disorder. What is causing this?

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Australia has one of the healthiest honey bee colonies in the world (see CSIRO’s bee health information), responsible for the pollination of many of Australia’s food crops, and it is essential we all assist in keeping it that way.

When used responsibly and in accordance with approved label instructions, crop protection products do not pose a risk to honey bees.

Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) is the phenomenon that occurs when the majority of worker bees in a colony disappear and leave behind a queen, plenty of food and a few nurse bees to care for the remaining immature bees and the queen.

There have been many theories about the cause of CCD overseas, but the researchers who are leading the effort to find out why, indicate that the main causes include:

  • The invasive varroa mite (a pest of honey bees not yet found in Australia).
  • New or emerging diseases such as Israeli Acute Paralysis virus and the gut parasite Nosema.
  • Changes to the habitat, inadequate forage/poor nutrition.
  • Poor hive management and overworked bees during pollination services.

 

Recent research has shown that bees are bouncing back from CCD and the latest statistics from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations show the global production of beehives is steadily increasing to the highest levels since 1961.

Pesticide spray drift onto bee colonies from farms during crop flowering season can also cause harm to bees. For this reason, CropLife Australia, in partnership with the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council, developed BeeConnected, a world-first smart-phone platform to enable clear, rapid communication between farmers and beekeepers.

76 per cent of Australian agricultural production can be attributed to the use of pesticides. 65 per cent of the species of crops grown in Australia since European settlement are dependent on honey bee pollination. Beekeepers and the agriculture industry working together can help to limit any potential damage to bees from normal farming practices.

When used responsibly and in accordance with approved label instructions, crop protection products do not pose a risk to honey bees.

BeeConnected can be downloaded for free as an iPhone or Android App, or accessed on a desktop computer via a web browser. For more information, and to download, see BeeConnected.