Celebrating World Bee Day across South Australia

As many as 1200 hives were destroyed on Kangaroo Island alone during the 2019/2020 bushfires. Photo Stan Gorton
As many as 1200 hives were destroyed on Kangaroo Island alone during the 2019/2020 bushfires. Photo Stan Gorton

On May 20, 2020, communities across the globe and South Australia including bushfire ravaged Kangaroo Island and the Adelaide Hills will celebrate World Bee Day.

The aim of this day is to raise awareness of the critical role bees play in safeguarding our food security and the contribution the bee industry makes to economies, the environment and society in general.

In Australia, the European honeybee is responsible for the production of over $101 million in products including honey, beeswax, pollen, royal jelly, venom and package bees each year.

South Australia will produce an estimated $11 million worth of products, primarily high-quality honey in 2020.

The most significant contribution that honeybees make however, is in pollinating agricultural and horticultural crops.

In Australia, 65 per cent of all plant-based industries depend to some extent on honeybee pollination.

Plant industries in South Australia that are the most reliant on honeybee pollination include almonds, apples, cherries, avocados, berries, small seeds and some broad-acre crops such as lucerne.

The value of these crops in estimated at $1.7 billion per year.

Beekeeper Danny Le Feuvre is a member of the Executive Council of the South Australian Apiarists' Assocation Association (SAAA) and chairman of the SA Apiary Alliance.

"The South Australia commercial apiary industry is comprised of over 173 registered beekeepers, working over 66,000 hives," Mr Le Feuvre said.

Commercial apiarists operate in most South Australian regions.

This year, over 40,000 hives will be shifted to the Riverland to pollinate almond orchards for a five-week period from the end of July through August.

Demand for pollination services from the almond industry is expected to increase to 60,000 in the next few years as this industry expands.

Hives will then be shifted to pollinate other horticultural and agricultural crops across the state from September through to April.

Unfortunately, during the recent bushfires approximately 2000 hives were destroyed on Kangaroo Island, the Adelaide Hills and in the South East.

As many as 1200 hives were destroyed on Kangaroo Island alone, with the loss of bushland forcing beekeepers to feed the survivors.

The loss of so many hives during the bushfires was devastating, but thanks to the generosity of SAAA members and honeybee lovers across Australia, the Association was able to provide assistance.

Adelaide Hills beekeepers were supplied with more than 190 operating hives, while more than $75,000 was raised through a campaign to support beekeepers on Kangaroo Island, where strict quarantine regulations ban the import of bees, hives and honey.

"While World Bee Day is a great initiative and shines an important light on the global honeybee industry, it is very heartening to know that there is support all year-round, as demonstrated after the bushfires, for our hard working apiarists and colonies of honeybees that contribute so much to the health and well-being of South Australians, our environment and economy," Mr Le Feuvre said.