New guide to help ensure the nation's food supply

 Farmers and beekeepers alike are being urged to get hold of a new guide aimed at helping them improve communication and work together to manage the  risk to honeybees from farm pesticides.

The guide was developed with funding from the Pollination  Program, a partnership between the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) and Horticulture Australia Limited (HAL). It was researched and written by TQA Australia, with assistance from the Victorian Department of Primary Industries. 

“As well as providing a list of all of the broad-acre and horticultural pesticides registered in Australia that contain a bee related warning on the label, the guide contains good practices that beekeepers and farmers can implement in order to reduce the risk of honeybee pesticide poisoning,” said Mr Connelly.

“We have also included some easy to understand, easy to use templates that can help farmers and beekeepers put the guide into practice,” he said.

Only 200,000 to 220,000 of Australia’s 500,000 managed beehives are currently utilised for honeybee dependent crop pollination services. If Varroa mite becomes established in Australia, it will wipe out much of the feral honeybee population and 480,000 managed hives will be required to provide pollination services every winter and spring. Furthermore, it has been estimated that peak demand could increase this figure to 750,000 hives, far outstripping current supply. 
Honeybee pesticide poisoning

 Mr Connelly said that “Sixty five percent of agricultural production is dependent on honeybee pollination, and the survival of the Australian horticultural  industry is dependent on hundreds of thousands of additional honeybee colonies being made available to provide that service,” 

 “It is hoped that this guide will play a part in removing some of the barriers to beekeeper participation in the horticultural industry” he said.

 The guide  – “Honeybee pesticide poisoning  – a risk management tool for Australian farmers and beekeepers” is available for free download on the RIRDC  websiteHard copies can be purchased from the website. Users and providers of pollination services are  encouraged to share it widely and are free to  provide links to the guide on their own websites.

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