Recovering the NSW Apiary Industry
There are currently 1,288 registered beekeepers in NSW, which represents about 45% of Australia's beekeeping industry. Beekeeping contributes to the Australian economy directly through honey products, and indirectly through pollination services. Honey bee pollination is vital for food security and is worth $14.2 billion annually to Australian agriculture.
The 2020 Australian bushfires have had a devastating effect on the NSW Apiary Industry. Around 9,800 hives were burnt, more than 88,000 hives lost bees, and key flora resources were destroyed on a vast scale. Beekeeping is a vital industry for rural communities and for NSW agriculture, creating jobs from production through to processing and sales of beehive products, and contributing around $36 million to the state’s economy annually. The industry provides essential pollination services to a wide array of NSW crops, with an estimated annual value of ~ $6 billion. NSW beekeeping is already under threat from drought, restricted access to lands and declining revenue.
Without intervention it is estimated that the current state-wide decline in beekeepers and jobs throughout the Apiary sector supply chain will be exacerbated, and that productivity will decline by 30%. The cost to agriculture through reduced pollination could run to tens of millions of dollars and could seriously impact food security
This proposal provides targeted intervention at high impact points across the Apiary Industry supply chain, with the aim of building back the industry and strengthening it into the future. It aligns with all of the priorities areas identified in the Bushfire Industry Recovery plan and with the policy of the NSW government to grow jobs and skills within the agriculture workforce and increase profitability, productivity and innovation in the sector. The proposal brings together beekeepers and key representatives from the Apiary Industry with scientists and policy makers from government and academic institutions to provide a holistic approach to meet current challenges and re-invigorate the sector.
Laurie Kershaw with bees on his property in Sutton, NSW. He had to relocate 2500 of his hives during the summer bushfires. CREDIT: ALEX ELLINGHAUSEN, SMH
The major impact of this proposal will be increased confidence within the Apiary sector that the industry is sustainable and profitable now and in the long term. The major outcome will be of retention and creation of jobs aligned to the Apiary Industry that will strengthen rural and regional communities throughout NSW.
The scope of our program of work is broad and ranges from re-establishing NSW bushland and forests and up-skilling the workforce to protecting and value-adding to beehive commodities. The interlinking activities and objectives of this program of work are shown in the diagram below:
The overarching objectives are to:
1. Improve confidence and investment into the NSW Apiary Industry
2. Improve prices for NSW honey that go directly to beekeepers and are amplified through the supply chain.
3. Provide a pathway that can secure native resources use for access by NSW beekeepers.
4. Increase the resilience and sustainability of the industry through up-skilling beekeepers and including them as stakeholders across all projects.
5. Build the capacity of the research community through the placement of PhD students through selected parts of the study.
6. Support policy makers to identify ways to protect and add value to NSW honey and the Apiary Industry through state-based investments