I thought long and hard about the headline because ultimately I need every person I can get (male & female) to read this post, get outraged and take action. The reference in the headline was a tip of the hat to the billions of female worker bees in beehives around Australia that tirelessly go about their work daily ensuring pollinated veggies on our table and their sweet amber liquid... honey.
I'll get to the point...
In a move that beggars belief, the Federal Government have declared the Asian bee (apis cerana) endemic to Australia and used that move as reason to stop funding the program to rid our shores of these invaders. This is a threat to food security in Australia, Australian native bees, flora and fauna and to our beekeeping industry.
A little background
In May 2007 a nest of Asian bees was found in Cairns. They are thought to have reached our shores on a boat masthead. Since that time a dedicated team of beekeepers and scientists have worked tirelessly to find and eradicate swarms/hives. Why the worry?... in short, because Asian bees are ineffective pollinators, don't produce honey, are prone to swarming (ie unmanageable), compete for floral resources and disrupts queen rearing in honey bee hives. They also destroy european honeybee and Australian native beehives. In the Solomon Islands where they invaded recently, the honeybee population was decimated from 2000 hives to just 5. Please take a moment to read the document below which goes into the issue in a little more detail.
It has been estimated that it will take $10 million over 2 years to eradicate the Asian bee. I would have thought that this was a no-brainer investment considered in the light of the fact that bees in Australia are estimated to do more than $4 billion worth of food pollination PER ANNUM. However, rather than dedicate the resources required, the Federal Goverment declared the Asian bee endemic on 28th February 2011 cutting the pittance of funding that was going to try to eradicate the problem.
So what are we doing about it?
The beekeeping industry, National Farmers Federation and Australian Food & Grocery Council are all galvinising forces and marching on Canberra today and tomorrow to highlight the issue. The campaign calls for 3 outcomes:
1. Immediately allocate $10 million over two years to eradicate the Asian bee in Australia
2. Implement the recommendation of the 2008 Parliamentary Enquiry into the beekeeping industry (More Than Honey) by allocating an additional $50 million annually to maintain a healthy beekeeping industry and pollination services
3. Provide funding for the establishment and operation of the Co-operative Research Centre for Bee Research and Food Security.
What can you do?
Firstly, stop feeling powerless. I know that in the face of so many stupid decisions made by our government it is easy to just sit back and do nothing, but that is not an option here. We can't have them selling off all of our food bowl land to overseas investors (in whose countries we are no allowed to buy land) and now further threatening food security barely trying to eradicate the Asian bee. We at least need to throw some resources at it.
You can visit www.securefoodsavebees.com to learn more about what is happening and use the very easy tool to send an email to the Minister, Joe Ludwig.
You could also send a letter/email to your local, Federal Member of Parliament. You can find your local member and their contact details here.
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