Could your business sustain a 35% drop in productivity? – Why Bees Matter
There will be a hive of activity at Melbourne market this Thursday 15th November as beekeepers swarm in for National Pollinator Week: 11-18 November, to make a buzz about Why Bees Matter.
“If your business handles fresh produce, then you’re likely exposed if we experience pollinator decline” says Fiona Chambers, CEO of Wheen Bee Foundation. “Your level of exposure depends largely on the type and mix of crops you handle”.
Beekeepers are doing a walk through the market to explain what’s happening to bees around the world, why beekeepers are worried, and why farmers, wholesalers and retailers should be too.
Honey bees are the most efficient and widely used pollinator in the world, but they are facing numerous challenges. In Australia, these include impacts of pesticides, maintaining access to quality nutrition through access to forests, and threats from pests and disease.
“The concern is not that we’ll run short of honey” says Chambers, “but there won’t be enough honey bees to pollinate our food crops. The flow on effects from pollinator decline are massive”.
“The estimated average economic value of Australian managed and wild honey bee pollinators is $14.2 billion” says John Karasiński, a researcher at Curtin University. “That figure is 140 times greater than the Gross Value of Production of honey”.
Karasiński has spent the past 3 years analysing ABS data for 53 Australian crops. His 2018 report has been welcomed by the peak industry body, Australia Honey Bee Industry Council (AHBIC).
“This new economic data demonstrates the real value of honey bees as pollinators” says Peter McDonald, AHBIC Chairman. “It shows we’re a small industry with a big impact”.
Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations states that pollinators affect 35 percent of global agricultural land, supporting the production of 97 of the leading food crops worldwide. They estimate that three out of four crops around the globe producing fruits or seeds for human use as food depend, at least in part, on pollinators.
“Honey bees are so important for pollinating our food,” says Chambers. “For many crops, honey bees are as important as water”.
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. www.wheenbeefoundation.org.au