Today we are proud to partner with Rural Aid and peak industry body The Australian Honey Bee Industry Council (AHBIC), to launch Hive Aid, a drought and bushfire relief campaign aimed specifically at struggling beekeepers.
Last month, we drew attention to the fact that Australia’s $58 billion agricultural industry is at risk as it looks to garner urgent support for the nation’s “littlest livestock with the biggest impact”, calling on consumers and government to back Australian beekeepers and honey bees. Our COO Ben McKee said: “Bees and beekeepers have a crucial role to play in our food production, and right now they are in a battle for survival. Hive Aid will provide much-needed assistance during some of the worst conditions in memory.”
The 2019/2020 honey season is forecast to be the lowest on record, with drought and bushfire decimating available water and flowering trees, and severe heat further impacting survival and activity of bee populations. “We are already seeing falling bee populations and the increasing risk of an exodus from the industry by beekeepers who can no longer maintain viable operations. If we don’t take immediate action, we risk not just a fall in honey production, but declines in food production across the board,” Mr McKee said.“The honey shortage is what consumers will see first, but the ramifications of the current conditions are much greater. Bees are directly responsible for pollinating one third of everything we eat – they have an impact on crops as varied as apples, avocados and broccoli, as well as feed used for livestock.”
Hive Aid will be overseen by AHBIC, and will provide financial and practical support to professional beekeepers. The campaign sits alongside other programs run by Rural Aid. 100% of funds raised through the Hive Aid campaign will go directly to beekeepers.
“Australia’s professional beekeepers are the cornerstone of Australian agriculture. We need to assist those currently impacted so that they don’t leave the industry, as well as provide help for difficult conditions ahead,” Mr McKee said.
“It is easy to overlook our littlest livestock and the forgotten farmers who care for them, but there should be no doubt about their importance. The contribution of honey bees to agriculture in Australia through pollination services is estimated at up to $20 billion.”
Wayne Thomson, Rural Aid National Business Development Manager, said the campaign would provide immediate practical assistance, such as supporting beekeepers with the cost of water to sustain bees or the cost of fuel to transport hives to areas with more nutritional resources for their bees. “Individual beekeepers may have different needs - our support will enable funds to be directed where they are most needed,” Mr Thomson said.
AHBIC Chairman, Peter McDonald said: “AHBIC is excited to work with Hive + Wellness and Rural Aid on this initiative. The industry’s challenges are very real, and our members are telling us that they need urgent help.”“Aside from some indirect funding, fodder and freight subsidies, as well as waiving of National Park permit and truck registration fees in NSW, there has not been any adequate funding made available on a national level specifically for beekeepers registered as primary producers,” he said.