Native bees
Native bees

How bees are vital to macadamia, avocado growers

TWO events will be held in early March for macadamia and avocado growers on the Northern Rivers.

The workshops will be of interest to growers who are passionate about pollination and are looking for ways to improve productivity and support the natural ecosystems on their farms.

Native bee specialists will be presenting the field days to help Macadamia and Avocado growers understand the role native bees and other pollinators have in crop pollination.

There will be information sharing presentations, question and answer opportunities, farm walks, insect hunts and demonstrations of native bee management.

Presenters include local growers who will showcase their approaches to increasing diversity in orchard management. They are joined by industry specialists in native bee management, Dr Megan Halcroft of Bees Business, and a hive of researchers from the Western Sydney University's Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment.

There are also unique opportunities to look at habitat restoration and novel crops on the different properties.

"Honey bees are excellent pollinators of many crops, but the burden placed on their health by pests and diseases is heavy," Dr Halcroft said.

"Added to that, the looming threat of a Varroa mite incursion makes our reliance on honey bees for pollination decidedly risky."

Native stingless bees live in colonies and visit a variety of plants.

We already know that where they are used in macadamia crops, their pollination services outperform honey bees.

The field days will expand on how growers can optimise the health and wellbeing of native stingless bees in the whole orchard environment.

Presentation topics will include the importance of pollination, how native bees and other pollinators perform their services, the value of insect pollinators to the macadamia and avocado industries, potential problems we will face if or when Varroa mite arrives in Australia and how we can prepare, demonstration of Interrow management for floristic diversity and how to achieve Integrated Pest Management and practical examples of the importance of supporting native bee populations, through plantings and habitat conservation, and how this will support all pollinating insects to ensure their presence during crop bloom.

Delicious local produce-filled lunches will be provided.

Researchers will lead walks into the farms to help growers get up close and personal with the insects in the orchard, with nets and jars. Participants will see inside a stingless bee hive and hear from local growers about how native bees have enhanced their enterprise.

The events are organised by The Richmond Landcare Inc, Lismore City Council and Western Sydney University Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment and sponsored by Hort Innovation.

When: Thursday, Friday, March 5 to 6, 9am to 2pm.

Cost: Free

Where: Two farms near Alstonville and Lindendale (addresses provided on registration)