News

Bee population declining

LOCAL food supplies are under increasing threat because the area’s bee population is experiencing ongoing decline, claims a lifelong apiarist.

The local industry expert, who asked not to be named, said the area between Tamworth and Toowoomba had lost more than 35% of its bee population in the past five years.

And he believed that a common chemical used by domestic and commercial gardeners – a neonicotinoid insectide – was partly to blame.

However, a spokesman for the Department of Primary Industries has rejected his claim, saying bee populations fluctuate naturally depending on availability of food sources, and that he is unaware of a substantial downturn in hive numbers.

Dr Doug Somerville, a technical specialist in honey bees, said Australia had seen major die-offs of bees historically, and he did not believe this was connected to pesticides, or something called Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) that is being seen in the United States and Europe.

Typically bees become disorientated and do not return to their hives, or are struck down by viruses and fungal disease.

Scientists have argued between themselves about the disorder, with no one cause being pinpointed.

However it was reported in January,by Britain’s Independent news-paper, that American scientists have found a new generation of pesticides are making honeybees far more susceptible to disease, even at tiny doses.

The study by researchers at Penn State University, raised questions about the substance used in the bee lab’s experiment, imidacloprid, which was Bayer’s top-selling insecticide in 2009.

Bayer, the German chemical giant which developed the insecticides and makes most of them, insists that they are safe for bees if used properly.

Dr Somerville said Australia did not face the problems apiarists had faced in the United States with a parasite called varroa, which he said was partially responsible for a significant decline in hives there.

He also blamed cheap honey from China and India for a smaller number of apiarists in the US keeping bees.

As for insecticides, he said: “Obviously they’re active on insects.”

And, for that reason, he didn’t like to see any sprayed on bees.

In a report published on its website, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority said neonicotinoids were widely used in Australia without Australia experiencing CCD.

However, it added that “neonicotinoid products contain specific label instructions that may, for example, require users not to spray plants in flower while bees are foraging.

"Where necessary such instructions can be extensive and detailed and include instructions relating to managed bee hives, it said, and were legally enforceable under state law."

It added: “Should the regulatory setting nonetheless be continually revised? Yes.

"The APVMA will continue to follow research around the world and consider decisions taken by other regulators, while looking at new information.”

The local industry expert is urging farmers and apiarists to come forward and report bee losses to the APVMA.

“We need bees to pollinate berries, fruit, nuts, most of the foods we like to eat,” he said.

“Without them we’re stuffed, so I hope people like eating gruel.”

Bees contribute to the pollination of seed and food crops to an estimated value of $1.76 billion a year, said Dr Michael Hornitzky, principal research scientist at Elizabeth Mac-Arthur Agricultural Institute.

Topics:  decline insects lismore population



Casino hostage taker was armed with steak knives

Hostage situation at Hotel Cecil in Casino, Barker St  where a man held a female bar staff at knifepoint. Resolved safely by police at 12.53pm Wednesday, May 24.

Audley Jack Walker has appeared before Lismore Local Court

All the gigs you need to know about this week

HAWAII UKE: Aloha Baby is a trio consisting of steel guitar, ukulele and double bass with three-part harmonies based in Australia who specialise in Hawaiian music with Stukulele, Paul Steel and Roddy Rumba. They will be featured in this month's Uke Night which has a Hawaiian theme. Hula dancing from Hula Tomoka and her troupe (also in the picture) will be featured, too. At Club Mullum in Mullumbimby today from 6.30pm.

Comedy, music, theatre and more

Are killer whales cruising our coastline?

A killer whale like this one was reportedly seen by a fisherman off the coast of Ballina yesterday.

Sighting a "very special thing” says marine ecologist

Local Partners

Joseph's biblical return to Ballina

BALLINA Players upcoming production is Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

All the gigs you need to know about this week

HAWAII UKE: Aloha Baby is a trio consisting of steel guitar, ukulele and double bass with three-part harmonies based in Australia who specialise in Hawaiian music with Stukulele, Paul Steel and Roddy Rumba. They will be featured in this month's Uke Night which has a Hawaiian theme. Hula dancing from Hula Tomoka and her troupe (also in the picture) will be featured, too. At Club Mullum in Mullumbimby today from 6.30pm.

Comedy, music, theatre and more

When good neighbours become Splendid friends

FLOOD APPEAL: Splendour jn the Grass General Manager Elise Huntley with Mullumbimby Neighbourhood Centre community support workers Kim Shelley and Roberta Brooks. Splendour has donated $23, 022.42 to the centre after auctioning off special Flood Relief Gold Passes.

Everybody needs splendid neighbours.

Dreamworld may supersize with 'Disneyland expansion'

Dreamworld could become a “more attractive and entertaining park”.

World’s strongest man reveals incredible 12,000 calorie diet

Brian Shaw won his 4th World's Strongest Man title. Source: Twitter

World’s strongest man reveals incredible 12,000-calorie diet

ABC2 slammed over football exhibition match coverage

Fans weren't too happy with ABC2's coverage of Wednesday night's game.

ABC2 slammed for coverage of soccer exhibition match

'Bulls--t!' Lisa Wilkinson grilled over Karl's pay packet

Join us for a Great Night as we Proudly present Lisa Wilkinson

“And you believe everything you read?”

Work starts on supermarket, retail and cinema complex

Artist impression of the proposed redevelopment of the cinema and shopping complex on Jonson St, Byron Bay.

Mercato billed as regional NSW's most sustainable shopping complex

How Toowoomba house prices compare in Australia

For sale sign in front of home.

Here's what $700,000 will buy you in Toowoomba, Brisbane and Sydney

Slaves in Byron: The dark side of housing crisis

Housing generic.

A darker side to Byron's economy

Bonville to become new housing hub

REZONING: Large areas of Bonville have been rezoned for residential

Land rezoning will turn farmland into housing

One of Maryborough's most historic homes is still for sale

FULL OF HISTORY: Trisha Moulds is owner of the historic Tinana state known as Rosehill. The beautiful home is currently for sale.

It has been the scene of both joy and tragedies over the years.

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!