Two Free field days – Get Latest Buzz On Native Bees

Two fascinating events will be held in early March for macadamia and avocado growers who are passionate about pollination and are looking for ways to improve productivity and support the natural ecosystems on their farms.

As part of the “Stingless bees as effective managed pollinators for Australian horticulture” project, native bee specialists will be presenting the field days to help Macadamia and Avocado growers understand the role native bees and other pollinators have in crop pollination. With information sharing presentations, Q&A opportunities, farm walks, insect hunts (yes you get a net) and demonstrations of native bee management, these events are sure to leave you buzzing.

Presenters include local growers who will showcase their approaches to increasing diversity in orchard management. They are joined by industry specialists in native bee management, Dr Megan Halcroft of Bees Business, and a hive of researchers from the Western Sydney University’s Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment. There are also unique opportunities to look at habitat restoration and novel crops on the different properties.

“Honey bees are excellent pollinators of many crops, but the burden placed on their health by pests and diseases is heavy. Added to that, the looming threat of a Varroa mite incursion makes our reliance on honey bees for pollination decidedly risky,” Dr Halcroft said.

In this context, the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment at Western Sydney University is heading up the Hort Innovation project “Stingless bees as effective managed pollinators for Australian horticulture”.

The project’s overall objective is to investigate and develop potential alternative, native insect pollinators for use in horticultural crops. The leading candidates are stingless bees, because they can be managed in hives, just as honey bees are, and moved into crops as required. Native stingless bees live in colonies and visit a variety of plants. We already know that where they are used in macadamia crops, their pollination services outperform honeybees. The field days will expand on how growers can optimise the health and wellbeing of native stingless bees in the whole orchard environment.

Presentation topics will include:

  • The importance of pollination
  • How native bees and other pollinators perform their services
  • The value of insect pollinators to the macadamia and avocado industries
  • Potential problems we will face if/when Varroa mite arrives in Australia and how we can prepare
  • Demonstration of Interrow management for floristic diversity and how to achieve Integrated Pest Management
  • Practical examples of the importance of supporting native bee populations, through plantings and habitat conservation, and how this will support all pollinating insects to ensure their presence during crop bloom.

Delicious local produce-filled lunches will be provided. Researchers will lead walks into the farms to help you get up close and personal with the insects in the orchard, with nets and jars. We’ll see inside a stingless bee hive and hear from a local growers how native bees have enhanced their enterprise.

Participants must wear covered shoes and bring a hat and drinking water. Venue address provided on registration.

The events are organized by The Richmond Landcare Inc and the Lismore City Council with Western Sydney University Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment and is sponsored by Hort Innovation.

When: Thursday 5 and Friday 6 March 2020

Time: 9am – 2pm

Cost: Free

Where: Two farms near Alstonville and Lindendale (addresses provided on registration)

What: Presentations and farm walks & talks, refreshments and lunch provided

Who: Presented by Lismore City Council, Richmond Landcare Inc, Western Sydney University Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment, supported by Australian Macadamia Society, Avocados Australia, and local growers.

Register for the Avocado event via Eventbrite https://avocadosnativebeesfieldday.eventbrite.com

Register for the Macadamia event by phoning Lismore City Council on 1300 87 83 87

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