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Bee Ambassadors

The Wheen Bee Foundation Bee Ambassador Network brings together volunteer bee advocates to share their passion and talent to help create a better world for bees.

New applicants have a chance to join the Network and take part in the Bee Ambassador Training Program, a three-day residential training program where participants will learn the skills to educate communities and inspire a new generation of bee supporters.

The most recent Bee Ambassador Training Program was held in Melbourne from Friday 21 June to Monday 24 June 2024.

Stay tuned for information about the 2025 Bee Ambassador Training Program.

Our Bee Ambassadors

Inspire

Encourage a new generation of sustainably-minded citizens to help the bees, supporting pollination security, food security and ecosystem health.

Educate

Students, teachers and communities on how they can work individually and collectively to support healthy bee populations.

Validate

By gathering and sharing examples of what people and The Wheen Bee Foundation are doing to make the world a better place.

Program details

Ambassadors participate in a 3-day residential training program that:

  • Encourages learning, cooperation and innovation
  • Develops communication skills and practices
  • Enables close connections between bee champions
  • Increases awareness of bee research in Australia
  • Facilitates the sharing of great ideas and initiatives
  • Identifies new project activities for implementation
  • Prioritises resources that support community advocacy

Testimonials from the 2024 Bee Ambassador Training Program

What an incredible opportunity and experience the Wheen Bee Ambassador training was. A perfect way to extend knowledge and skills and make meaningful connections with like-minded and knowledgeable individuals. I look forward to seeing where it leads me personally and professionally in the future.

I applied to the WBF Ambassador Program to develop my advocacy skills to become more effective in my own community organisation. What I didn’t expect was the experience of bonding with a wonderful group of generous, intelligent and inspiring people with a passion to promote all things bees, pollinators and education. A must for anyone educating or advocating in this space.

The Bee Ambassador Program offered by the Wheen Bee Foundation, provides a wonderful opportunity for anyone involved with, or interested in, the bee landscape in Australia.

This program gave me an excellent insight into what it means to be an effective Ambassador for not only bees and pollination but about any cause worthy of advocacy. Thank you, Wheen Bee Foundation, for making this possible. Highly recommend.

2024 Bee Ambassador Training Program Outline

Welcome: Friday 21 June

7:30PM: Welcome Dinner and Participant Introductions

 

Day 1: Saturday 22 June

7:00AM: Breakfast

8:30AM: Session 1: Setting the scene (Mike and Fiona)

  • Introduction and Objectives
  • Ground Rules
  • What is an Advocate
  • What is an Ambassador
  • Group life-cycles
  • Areas of influence and concern
  • Dependence, independence, interdependence

10:30AM: Morning Tea 11:00AM: Session 2: Getting to know you (Mike and Fiona)

  • Which bee cause/s are you
  • What are your greatest challenges? advocating for? – Environmental? – Logistics? – People?

12:30PM: Lunch

1:30PM: Session 3: Advocacy skills and making change happen (Mike and Fiona)

  • What are the characteristics of a good Ambassador/Advocate?
  • Understanding change and how to influence
  • Power, control, influence, authority and responsibility. How to handle it?

3:15PM: Afternoon Tea

3:45PM: Session 4: How to handle difficult people and difficult situations (Fiona)

Managing conflict

5:30PM: Close

6:00PM: Session 5: Bee Influencers Dinner (MC Fiona)

International Perspectives on Beekeeping

  • Jodie Goldsworthy (Outgoing President of the Oceania Regional Commission, APIMONDIA, Co-Founder and Director of Beechworth Honey Group

 

Day 2: Sunday 23 June

7:00AM: Breakfast

8:30AM: Session 6: Building Effective Teams (Fiona)

10:15AM: Morning Tea

10:45AM: Session 7: Changing Behaviour, Making a Better World for Bees

  • Centre for Bee Education (Liana Beatson)
  • Bee Friendly Farming (Fiona)
  • Australian Pollinator Count (Megan Halcroft)

12:30PM: Lunch

1:30PM: Session 8: Learning Styles: Creating an Environment for Change

3:15PM: Afternoon Tea

3:45PM: Session 9: Communication and Presentation Skills (Nat Ward)

5:30PM: Close

6:00PM: Session 10: Dinner – The Australian Pollinator Landscape Speaker: Professor Saul Cunningham

9.30PM: Evening concludes


Day 3: Monday 24 June

7:30AM: Check out of rooms

7:45AM: (For 8.00AM departure) Depart from Mantra Epping, 250 Cooper St Epping, VIC 3076

8:30AM: Arrive at Agribio

Visit 1: Agribio

Tour the world-class facility for agriculture biosciences research and development.
A joint initiative of the Victorian Government and La Trobe University, AgriBio brings together world-leading scientists in a collaborative centre. Hear from leader researchers about the latest in bee biosecurity and the challenges related to funding bee research.

Guest Speaker:
Karyn Di Florio, Bee Biosecurity Officer,
Agriculture Victoria

2.00PM: Arrive at Department of Agriculture and Water Resources

Visit 2: Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Post Entry Quarantine Services Group
Tour of the new $379 million Post Entry Quarantine facility designed to protect the Australian agriculture industry. This will include a tour of the state of the art bee importation facility. Hear behind the scenes efforts to resume the safe importation of honey bee genetics into Australia.

Hosts:

  • Mathew Scarlett, Assistant Director, High Containment
  • Kellie Goodman, Bird and Bee Manager

Guest speaker:

  • Dr Jody Gerdts, Director, Bee Scientifics

4:00PM: Depart the Post Entry Quarantine facility

4.30PM: Arrive back at Mantra Epping

5.00PM: Arrive at Melbourne Airport

Speaker Biographies

Karyn Di Florio

Bee Biosecurity Officer, Agriculture Victoria Karyn has been working in Agriculture Victoria for around 20 years – first in Plant biosecurity based at the Melbourne Markets and for the last few years in Apiary biosecurity based at Attwood. The Plant biosecurity role included tasks of pest and disease inspection, certification, surveillance and fumigation monitoring. Since transferring to Apiary, Karyn has been involved in multiple compliance and inspection operations at almond pollination events (including the Ag Vic Varroa mite responses), undertaking the movement controls/permits role, and most recently appointed the Bee Biosecurity Officer role.

Dr Jody Gerdts

Founder and Managing Director, Bee Scientifics Jody is a fourth-generation beekeeper whose work focuses on the development and practical application of science-based beekeeping practices. Her main areas of interest are the role of nutrition in honey bee immune defenses and genetic contributions to honey bee health. Jody is the founder and Managing Director of Bee Scientifics. She is an International Specialised Skills Institute Agribusiness Fellow and accomplished speaker and educator.

Paul Cunningham

Associate Professor, Agriculture Victoria Research

Paul is Research Leader for the Invertebrate and Weed Sciences group, a team of 35 scientists in the Agriculture Victoria Research (AVR) Division of DEECA. Paul’s team develops and evaluates new tools and practices for detecting, monitoring, and controlling Australia’s priority insect pests, through integrated pest management (IPM), applied chemical ecology, insect diagnostics and surveillance, and biocontrol. Paul has 25 years of research experience in the behaviour, ecology and management of insect pests, with over 50 refereed publications in this field.

His research developing new insect lures for IPM has led to one approved patent with 2 further patent filings currently in review. Paul’s role connects with Agriculture Victoria’s Biosecurity and Agricultural Service, who conduct insect trapping and surveillance across the state. He has developed and led many large collaborative industry-coinvested projects in IPM, forging strong links with local growers that suffer problems with insect pest management.

Kieran Murphy

Senior Project Officer, Agriculture Victoria Research

Kieran Murphy is a senior project officer within Agriculture Victoria Research, Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DECCA) in Victoria, leading traceability research
and associated technology development and integration approaches across Horticulture and Viticulture production systems. Kieran has led national and international approaches to digital transformation in knowledge and learning systems, with a key focus on digital transformation for agriculture producers and service providers.

More recently, he has led the development of a data eco-system for orchard research and early fruit traceability, a digital twin initiative with Food Agility CRC and RMIT, a traceability pilot with Cherry growers and a new research collaboration with the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC) exploring data exchanges between orchardists and apiarists to inform chemical application and hive deployment and movement.

Dr Jessi Henneken

Research Scientist, Agriculture Victoria Research

Dr Jessi Henneken is a research scientist with Agriculture Victoria Research (AVR). She graduated from her PhD at the University of Melbourne in 2018. Her PhD investigated web-based chemical communication in a species of orb-web spider. She joined AVR after completing an Australian postgraduate internship with their Invertebrate and Weeds Sciences team and hasn’t left since. Jessi has worked across a range of projects at AVR including mass trapping Queensland fruit fly, integrated pest management for grapevine phylloxera, and monitoring hive health. Jessi finds working in the agricultural sciences rewarding as this research helps ensure communities have access to safe and healthy food by investigating and developing sustainable management practices.

Dr Umar Lubanga

Research Scientist, Agriculture Victoria Research

Dr Lubanga has 18 years of research experience in insect communication systems and behavioural ecology and aims to apply his skills to develop environmentally friendly and sustainable insect management practices. He currently leads research to optimise an external trap for managing small hive beetle (Aethina tumida), a major pest of honey bees in Australia. Umar’s work encompasses a broad range of pest management tactics including chemical ecology, applied insect acoustics, classical biological control and integrated pest management.

Dr Francesco Martoni

Research Scientist, Agriculture Victoria Research

Dr Francesco Martoni has 8 years of experience in insect and bacterial metabarcoding. Francesco completed his PhD in New Zealand, exploring insect-bacteria associations using barcoding and metabarcoding techniques. Since then, Francesco’s research focuses on the use of metabarcoding as a tool for surveillance and diagnostics. Francesco has been leading Agriculture Victoria’s insect metabarcoding component of the iMapPESTS project (2018 2023), as well as a BIP (DAFF) project investigating novel triage tool for biosecurity targeting ants (2021–2023, DAFF C06474) and leads a marine biosecurity project on the use of metabarcoding around the port of Melbourne (2022–23) as well as a Pest and Disease Survey in Norfolk Island (2021–23).

Francesco also led a biosecurity residential in New Zealand testing novel eDNA methods for the detection of Varroa mites from hives and collaborates with the University of Canberra on the eDNA proficiency testing for Varroa and other pest species.

Antonette Walford

Biosecurity Entomologist, Agriculture Victoria

Antonette Walford has been a biosecurity entomologist for over 16 years, beginning her career in the Department of Fisheries and Forestry before moving to the Chief Plant Health Officer Branch within Agriculture Victoria in 2019. Her current role involves the triage and assessment of public reports of suspect plant pests as well as providing technical and policy advice on pest risks pathways and also responds to exotic pest detections.

In the last few years, she has had involvement and interest in the emergence of environmental DNA in biosecurity settings and is passionate about driving its application in biosecurity surveillance.

Greg Lefoe

Senior Research Scientist, Agriculture Victoria

Greg is a biological control scientist with more than 20 years’ research experience in pest insect and weed management, including pests of production and amenity horticulture. He designs and conducts quarantine laboratory and field experiments for both parasitoids and herbivores, and led the successful importation, quarantine testing and risk analysis components of Mastrus ridens research that resulted in release for control of codling moth in Australia. He has extensive experience in detection, monitoring and assessment of biological control agents released in Australia and created the Australian Biocontrol Hub in conjunction with the Atlas of Living Australia.

Greg collaborates nationally and internationally to identify and assess potential new biological control agents with agencies such as the USDA and CABI and manages biological control agent surveys and research in South America, USA, and several European countries. Greg currently leads the Hort Innovation AP19002 PIPS3 IPDM in apples and pears project.

2024 Bee Ambassador Program

2025 Bee Ambassador Training Program Expression of Interest

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