Western Australia’s honey production hit by drought conditions

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 20th December 2011

Honey production in Western Australia is down more than half this year, compared with last year, after honeybees were affected by recent drought conditions.

The University of Western Australia’s Professor Boris Baer said beekeepers should not expect their bees to produce honey. The weather conditions resulted in failure of blossom in a number of plants important for honey production.

The fall in honey production comes on top of declines in honeybee populations nationally and world-wide.

Professor Baer said, “Honeybees don’t just make honey. About a third of our food including most fruits and vegetables, require pollination by bees.”

He said that Australia’s geographic isolation has so far been an advantage, because bee diseases elsewhere have not reached our shores. However, two bee threats, the small hive beetle and the Asian honeybee, have now established themselves as pests in Australia, and the arrival of more pests such as the extremely dangerous Varroa mite is expected within the coming decade.

“We have to find a way to safeguard Australian honeybees and their pollination services,” he said.

Professor Baer has been awarded a short-term Fellowship to join the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin where he will work with experts to address the honeybee problem.