About bees & pollination

Beekeeping: an important and significant industry

While beekeeping is a relatively small industry, it is a hugely important one that plays a highly significant role within the agricultural sector.

Beekeeping is essential, not just for honey and other hive products such as bees wax, but also for the pollination services provided by bees.

Two thirds of Australia's agricultural output is dependent on honey bees.

Numerous studies show that the addition of bees at a time when plants are flowering significantly increases both the yield and quality of crops.

Honey and other hive products generate around $90 million a year in Australia, but the contribution of honey bees to crop production is estimated to be around $4-6 billion a year.

Although Apis mellifera (honey bees) is an introduced species in Australia, all the crops they pollinate, except macadamias, originally come from overseas as well. Honey bees also provide benefits to native forests by adding to biodiversity through pollination. Plant biodiversity contributes to positive outcomes such as soil and water retention, local area cooling and carbon sinks. So bees provide a key ecosystem service and fall into the rare category of being an exotic species that provides significant benefits to their local environment.

Honey bees play an essential role in ensuring food security.

Bee landing yellow

Our honey bees are under threat

Honey bees and other pollinators are under threat worldwide for a number of reasons, including:

  • Honey bee diseases and pests

    • Just like other creatures, honey bees are susceptible to a number of diseases and unfortunately, with global movements and intensive farming practices, a number of bee diseases are increasing in their detrimental effects on bees.

  • Habitat destruction

    • A loss of access to nectar and pollen resources makes it difficult to impossible for commercial beekeepers to maintain a viable business and by extension to sustain enough healthy and strong hives for pollination services.

  • The use of agricultural chemicals

    • Products like insecticides, fungicides, herbicides and fertilizers can all be highly toxic to bees, but many of these are commonly used in very high quantities in the horticultural industry and we are seeing their negative impact on bee health and numbers.

  • A decline in commercial beekeeping

    • Commercial beekeeper numbers are decreasing in Australia and across the world for a number of reasons including reduced access to resources, low honey prices with increasing production costs, an under-appreciation of the value of pollination services, and the impact of serious bee diseases.

You can help – donate now – to help save the bees.

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Other pollinators

Although honey bees are the most important pollinators for the majority of our crop species, other insect pollinators play important roles too. Many of these insects also face significant challenges.

Although the main focus of the work of the Wheen Bee Foundation is on honey bees, we are also committed to supporting research that will alleviate the stresses faced by other pollinators.

Click here to read more about Australian native bees.

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