A beekeeper’s harvest

Congratulations

Kate Maddern Rhodes Scholarship

On behalf of the board I would like to congratulate BCG Research Agronomist, Kate Maddern, who has been awarded the prestigious 2021 Victorian Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford University. We are wish her all the best with her studies.

Harm van Rees Award

Recently I visited the BCG Main Site at Curyo along with our CEO, Fiona Best and other BCG staff to present the Harm van Rees award to Steve Marcroft for his work in canola research and production.

Congratulations Steve and thank you for your commitment to the industry.

I was very impressed with the standard of the trials and the site presentation and we look forward to the results of the trials that farmers can use to improve their profitability. I invite you to go online and visit the 2020 Digital Research Site at www.bcg.org.au

The trial sites and the videos are a credit to the work of the BCG staff and I would like to thank them for their professional work.

A beekeeper’s harvest

In springtime for the past eight years, apiarists, Max and Peter, have installed 600 beehives in our canola crops and our neighouring canola crops. Each hive is home to 30,000 bees and each hive can produce approximately 50kg of honey per year.

This is an example of farmers from different industries helping each other and the outcome only has benefits: the apiarist gives the bees the opportunity to produce high quality honey and the farmer can increase the pollination and yield of their canola crop.

In 1997, research in Australia found when honeybees are present in some canola varieties, yields increased by 18 per cent (Rob Manning, WA, Department of Agriculture). The research indicates bees may also help seed set earlier, resulting in shorter, more compact plants with more even seed maturity, making such crops easier to harvest and less prone to pod shattering.

Worldwide food production potentially could be 60 per cent less with no bees in the environment according to research.

Max and Peter commence bee pollination in southern NSW white box trees, then to almond plantations in northern Victoria, to canola crops at our properties in the southern Mallee and then timbered areas in southern Victoria.

Max said the threats to the bee industry include access to flowers on public land.  The 1800 commercial bee keepers and their 530 000 hives are facing a real possibility that they won’t have access to public land as a safe haven for their honeybees that allow them to be conditioned and strengthened ahead of vital crop pollination.

Another threat is the use of pesticide sprays, so communication between the farmer and the beekeeper is essential. The choice of pesticides, spraying late in the evening when the bees have returned to the hive or moving the hives to a safer area of the farm are ways to minimize the harm.

COVID 19 has also presented challenges to transporting hives interstate at night when bees are dormant. 

There are only upsides to our relationship with Max and Peter. The benefits include: good communication and conversation, maximizing pollination and the yield of our canola cro , Max and Peter produce an abundance of high quality honey and, of course, we get fresh natural honey for our crumpets at breakfast.

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