Adelaide-based bee research gets $600,000 boost

Image: ABC News
Excerpt from ABC News:

Excerpt & image, ABC News: Dr Katja Hogendoorn is a research associate at the University of Adelaide. She is a leading authority on Bees, in particular the role of bees in the transfer of beneficial microbes (‘entomovectoring’), the behavioural ecology of native bees, and on the importance and potential of native bees as crop pollinators.

A plan to map bee activity and protect South Australian pollination rates from climate change and varroa mites has been given a $600,000 boost with the launch of a new program in South Australia. The State Government and the University of Adelaide have both contributed $300,000 to the project, which will be used to map bee activity and gain a better understanding of plants needed to sustain them.

University research associate Doctor Katja Hogendoorn said climate change and habitat loss were the biggest threat to Australian bees. She said the parasitic varroa mite, while not yet in Australia, had decimated bee populations around the world. Australia has over 2,500 native bee species, with several showing good potential to pollinate crops. The mites attach themselves to bees, sucking their blood, causing diseases and viruses deadly to the insect.

varoa-mite-closeup“That is the main problem at the moment in the United States, where the bees are dying,” Dr Hogendoorn said.

“We want to prevent the bees dying in the future, so we have to plant bee food so that bees can be maintained locally.”

Dr Hogendoorn said lucerne, almonds, apples and cherries relied entirely upon bee pollinators, but the bees needed a “variety of food sources” after the crop had finished flowering.

She said the right environment needed to be secured around crops to “build and maintain” bee populations.

Read the full feature from the ABC here >>

Image: varoa mite (varoa destructor) feeding on honey bee host.
Courtesy, Erbe, Pooley: USDA, ARS, EMU.

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