Olivia Bernauer: Understanding apple and cherry pollinators: comparing pollinator effectiveness

Pollinators facilitate the reproduction of many flowering plants, including a variety of crop plants. Apples and cherries are two economically-valuable, pollinator-dependent crops grown in NSW, meaning that the successful production of apple and cherry fruits depends on help from pollinators. Many of these important pollinators are insects like beetles, flies, moths, and wild and managed bees. To preserve apple and cherry production into the future, it is important to understand this pollination relationship. Examining pollination effectiveness can help us to better understand how different pollinator species are interacting with crop flowers and influencing fruit production. Pollination effectiveness is the average amount of pollen deposited per visit to the flower combined with the pollinator visitation rate. To study pollination effectiveness a single-visit study was conducted, and pollinator specimens were collected directly from crop flowers to evaluate the quantity and identity of the loose pollen grains on their bodies. From the results of this research, we can start to evaluate the quality of different pollinator species visiting apple and cherry flowers.

Megan Halcroft: Australian Pollinator Week – Inspiring community awareness and participation

Community awareness of the importance of honey bees, for food security, has greatly increased over the past few years. However, many people are still unaware of the thousands of ‘other’ insect species that provide pollination services. These insects may help increase crop quality and yield, as honey bees do, but more importantly, they drive biodiversity. Native bees and insects have evolved with our native plants, and as such, are best adapted to perform their pollination services. By increasing public understanding of the importance of our tiny pollinators, we can help preserve and support existing insect populations. To help achieve this goal, in 2015 Australian Pollinator Week (APW) was created. The 2nd full week of November, during the Australian spring, is a time when schools, neighbours, retirement villages, garden clubs, landcare and bushcare groups can come together for APW. Not only can they learn about insect pollinators, they can actively support their natural populations. By participating in APW, and sharing our experiences, we can increase knowledge, participate in citizen science projects, create habitat, provide food resources and enhance our environment. As a group, it can be a lot of fun. Multiple resources have been developed to help inspire communities to participate. The “how to…” guides, colouring-in projects, videos and scripted presentations are available on the Australian Pollinator Week page at https://beesbusiness.com.au/pollweekmain.html

Nural Cokcetin: The bioactive properties of honey – using honey to kill superbugs and promote gut health

These talks will cover the antimicrobial properties of honey and its use as a topical treatment for wounds and skin infections, including those caused by antibiotic-resistant superbugs along with how honey works to kill these superbugs without them becoming resistant to the killing effects of the honey. It will also cover the buzz about Australian 'manuka' honey; and how honey acts as a 'prebiotic' food that can improve our gut health by changing the balance of bacteria living in our gut.

Scott Nacko: Cucurbit pollination & small hive beetle infestation in the stingless bee, Tetragonula carbonaria

We will discuss the first detailed case of small hive beetle infestation in a living Australian stingless bee hive that was transported and deployed for use in Cucurbit crop pollination. Out of nine studied hives, one hive became infested. All life stages of the small hive beetle, with the exception of eggs, were discovered inside the hive, which contained a total of 14 adult beetles and 133 beetle larvae. Events leading up to infestation, and future work to be done with cucurbit crops and stingless bees will be addressed.

Mark Hall: The life and times of native and managed bees: an art and science perspective

Bees capture our imagination more than most other insect groups. This is evident by their presence in art, literature, science and economics. We rely on them for our nutrition and we value them for their beauty. But we don’t actually know that much about them and their mysterious ways. In this presentation I am going to attempt to merge art and science, sharing some of my love and fascination with all bees (not just the humble honeybee) through poems and short stories. I will intersperse these with some important research we are conducting at Western Sydney University to understand their role in agricultural systems, in glasshouse food production and how we can ensure the health and survival of both managed and wild species’ within these human-dominated environments.

Rosie Stern: An update on Australian Research on the Glycaemic Index and Prebiotic effects of Australian Honeys

The presentation will briefly outline the presenter’s contribution to Australian research on the health aspects of Australian honey from 1999 to 2019. In particular, the presenter will describe the results of research into the Glycaemic index(GI) of honey and the prebiotic effects of honey. The Glycaemic Index is a measure of how different carbohydrates (sugars) in foods effect blood sugar levels. Foods containing carbohydrates are ranked according to their effect on the blood glucose levels. Honey has been of interest as affecting blood sugar levels because of the high percent of sugars in honey and the health effects for persons with health disorders such as diabetes. A Prebiotic is a food ingredient that beneficially affects an individual by selectively stimulating the growth and activity of bacteria in the large bowel. Honey has been of interest as affecting the bacteria in the large bowel because of the oligosaccharides (long chain sugars) in honey and the health effects for persons with bowel disorders such as irritable bowel and constipation. The presentation will outline where Honeys were sourced from in Australia, methods of testing performed and results of the testing. The presentation will also outline which Australian honeys are permitted to have nutrition health claims on their labels. Nutrition health claims are voluntary statements made by food businesses on labels and in advertising about a food. The claim refers to a relationship between a food and health.

Rod Bourke: AFB - The art of beekeeper survival when it completely surrounds us

American foulbrood (AFB) worries beekeepers endlessly and gives many of us nightmares! Some people absolutely live in fear of getting AFB in one (or more) of their hives, to the extent that it negatively impacts on their enjoyment of bee keeping. The reality is that AFB is all around us and it is a fatal honeybee disease, yet for much of the time is not such a great threat to us. I will discuss practical beekeeping tips which can reduce the incidence of AFB and stop its spread, therefore allowing you more enjoyment in your beekeeping.

Northern Rivers newsletter - August 2019

Northern Rivers newsletter - August 2019

I was asked the other day if a Tuckeroo Tree was good for bees. Apparently the bees were 'roaring' in the tree. If bees are 'roaring' they are gathering pollen. The pollen is collected by the mouth parts and then they hover whilst they rake it back to the pollen baskets. It is this hovering of large numbers that makes the roar. Nectar gathers on the other hand go sip, sip, and straight to the next flower.