Sustainable pollination project protects pollinator biodiversity
02 September, 2020
02 September, 2020
The Healthy Bees for Sustainable Pollination project is a collaborative research project conducted by the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment at Western Sydney University (UWS), and supported by Bayer.
UWS researcher Dr
Amy-Marie Gilpin says the project aims to secure pollination within agricultural
ecosystems through a range of tactics to support and maintain healthy and
diverse pollinator populations, including honey bees, stingless bees, and other
insects. “We're looking at the current state of our pollinators through this
project, including bee health, and how that might change into the future.”
assesses pollination at both a farm and landscape scale, not only addressing
the crop impact, but also how floral resources within the wider environment are
Dr Gilpin says the
importance of crop pollination cannot be understated, as it drives production
of much of our fruits, vegetables and nuts.
“What we are
finding, which is really fantastic, is a range of native pollinators are also
contributing, such as the common blowfly, wasps, native bees, stingless bees in
particular, and even butterflies.”
floral resources – being pollen and nectar – are available for these
pollinators, is critical. Given those resources are bountiful for a short
period of the year, researchers are mobilising floral enhancements on-farm to
give pollinators food year-round.
It’s this sort of work that could see the cooperation of farmers come into play by growing appropriate floral resources on their properties to better support pollinators.
Hosting much of
the work Dr Gilpin and her team are conducting, Bill Shields has a front row
seat to world class research on at his orchard at Bilpin – and says the reason to get involved was
“The Healthy Bees for Sustainable Pollination
project is really important to give us an understanding of the full-scale issue
surrounding pollination in Australia. Our business simply wouldn't exist unless
there was something here to pollinate the blossom for our apples to form,” he
Dr Gilpin says
that while European honey bees are critical in this process, there are a range
of other bees and insects identified as having a role in pollination.
“We've got the
good news that native pollinators are here within our agricultural ecosystems,
so now we need to learn how to support and foster their growth,” she says.
The impact of a changing climate on pollinators is also being investigated through the EucFACE research facility at the UWS Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment.
“At EucFACE we’re
measuring the impacts of elevated CO2 on eucalypt floral resources,
and also examining the effects of increased temperatures within our glasshouse
facilities,” Dr Gilpin says.
Hugh Armstrong, Horticulture and Plantation Lead ANZ for Bayer says that supporting the Healthy Bees for Sustainable Pollination project fits directly with Bayer’s purpose in
setting new standards for sustainable agriculture
“This project is
an important contributor to see how our technologies and nature can work
together. An integrated system with a variety of solutions will be more
sustainable into the future, protecting Australia’s farmer livelihoods,
valuable crop protection products and the environment.”
The Healthy Bees for Sustainable Pollination project is part of the Hort Frontiers strategic partnership initiative developed by Hort Innovation, with co-investment from Western Sydney University, Bayer, Syngenta Asia-Pacific and Greening Australia, and contributions from the Australian Government.