Indigenous bees (left) and honey bees (right) visit the apple blossoms. Photo Credit Professor James Cook.
The emergence of black summer bush fires gives researchers an extraordinary position to study the discovery of wild honey bees and other pollen, giving farmers a better understanding of the future.
After the 2019-2020 forest fires, NSW lost 68 percent of its national parks and other floriculture resources, destroying more than 15 million hectares of native forest nationwide. These resources are essential for the maintenance of healthy honey bees that support pollen in 65 percent of agricultural crops.
Hort Innovation is funding a new research project based on the largest apple growing area in Bilpin, NSW, to see how the recent forest fires have affected crops and how these effects affect them.
Ashley Zameck, director of Hort Innovation Research and Development, said the devastating shrubs will not be forgotten, and farmers are at risk of increasing weather.
“The project, which we are launching today, will provide a detailed case study of the impact of large-scale wildfires on forest pollen communities by looking at the impact on Bilpin’s apple crops,” Zameck said.
“This project provides an unusual opportunity for scientists who have been studying pollen populations and floral resources in the Philippines for three years before forest fires. That research provides excellent pre-fire information to start this project.
Over the next few years, the new study will help farmers better understand how to survive pollen and landscaping, and provide tips and mitigation measures to protect crops and pollen from future fires.
Professor James Cook, director of the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment at the University of West Sydney, looks at the impact of wildfires on wild pollen and the plants they trust and how they can be changed or rehabilitated after a fire.
It also explores how changes in managed bees, wild honey bees, and wildlife in crop pollen, as well as non-crop flowering resources, affect pollen services.
“Black summer fires were terrible, but they gave our team a unique opportunity to study the impact of the worst on pollen services,” said Professor Cook.
There were fires in the apple orchards that we had been studying for the past three years, so we anticipated the amount and abundance of pollen there. Now we can see how the fire affected the apple blossoms and flowering plants and how these things will survive or change over the next few years.
Findings from this study also suggest that Veroro Mitt’s potential impact on beekeeping will be important to the horticulture industry, and what will happen if the pest is caught in Australia and the free pollen it receives from wild honey bees is significantly reduced. .
Although the project focuses on apple crops in Bilpin, the case study is expected to benefit many pollinators, including vegetables such as almonds, avocados, leeks, and others.
The project, part of the Hort Frontiers Flower Fund, is part of the Hort Frontiers Strategic Partnership Initiative developed by Hort Innovation, a joint venture with the University of West Sydney and contributions from the Australian Government.
Hort Innovation is a non-profit research and development corporation owned by Horticulture Australia.