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Left Sarah Bingham, HB volunteer and Right Sheila Stokes, President Hawkesbury Beekeepers inc setting SHB traps at WBF research apiary

Richmond Research Apiary in Action

Last year the Wheen Bee Foundation (WBF) quietly launched a research apiary situated on the property that was once home of the Foundation’s benefactor, Gretchen Wheen.

The WBF research apiary allows researchers to test various management interventions in a practical field environment, but under controlled conditions.

WBF has co-funded a number of industry research projects since 2012, and has been looking to further expand the impact of its industry investments.

“We saw an opportunity to develop the apiary and make it available to a wider range of bee researchers” said Fiona Chambers, CEO of WBF. “We wanted to support researchers and help their budgets go further”.

Having access to an apiary that is geographically removed from other field sites, greatly strengthens the value and reliability of the research and becomes an added benefit for researchers.

“The research apiary is a fantastic resource” says Dr Andrew Hayes, a senior scientist with University of the Sunshine Coast (USC), who has been using the site as part of a small hive beetle research project. “Having hives that are specifically designated for use by our research project, and managed for us in the way that is best for our experimental design is invaluable”.

WBF was also looking for innovative ways to close the gap between the research outcomes and the uptake of findings through industry practice change.

Fiona Chambers approached Hawkesbury Beekeepers inc (HB) the local member club of the Amateur Beekeepers Association of NSW (ABA).

“I just felt that there was a lot to be gained from a collaboration between researchers, the Foundation and local beekeeping clubs” she said, “and they jumped at the opportunity to provide volunteers”.

Sheila Stokes, President of HB thinks that the affiliation gives their club an additional offering.

“Some of our members have joined HB specifically because of the research work we do” she said, “and that is something I am very proud of”.

The first volunteers were inducted to the site in March 2017. Since then, a total of eight HB volunteers have participated in setting lure traps and systematically trapping, measuring and recording small hive beetle numbers for a project being conducted by University of Sunshine Coast (USC).

We estimate the value of the volunteers’ in kind contribution for this research project to be around $4,000. That is a considerable benefit to the research, but the volunteers benefit too.

“The opportunity to work with some great people including field volunteers inexperienced and experienced has been fantastic” says Adrian Grew, one of the HB volunteers. “Learning about how research is conducted and forcing myself think more about how pest control can be conducted from a scientific standpoint has been a great advantage of my involvement”.

“It’s a win;win” says Fiona Chambers “and we’ve been thrilled with how well it has worked in practice”.

Adrian Grew setting SHB lures for the research trials being conducted at the WBF research apiary at Richmond NSW.
Adrian Grew setting SHB lures for the research trials being conducted at the WBF research apiary at Richmond NSW.

 

The Wheen Bee Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation that promotes awareness of the importance of bees for food security, and raises funds for research that addresses the national and global threats to bees.

If you are interested in leaving a legacy, making a donation, or volunteering please contact Fiona Chambers 0427 354 457 or go to the website www.wheenbeefoundation.org.au

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