WARNING: Chris Fuller from Kin Kin Native Bees and Dr Tim Heard of the CSIRO, with a surviving hive of stingless native bees at Landcare Nursery.
GYMPIE region orchardists and croppers are facing a new year environmental crisis, after extreme heat wiped out millions of the bees they depend on for pollination.
Only months after Gympie region bee men led the move to recruit new beekeepers into an industry decimated by chemical and insect pests, a new crisis has emerged.
This time, the threat is a shortage of the native bees that have helped replace the vital pollination work of domestic honey bees.
Gympie apiarist Glenbo Craig yesterday warned that recent extreme heat had “impacted dramatically on native stingless bees over a wide area”.
At an individual level, some beekeepers have lost many thousands of dollars worth of native hives.
“Many hives have been lost and others weakened. Reports of major losses are still flowing in, with quite a number of keepers losing over half their hives,” Mr Craig said.
“Operators in the native bee industry are very concerned.”
Mr Craig and his father Athol warned last year of the need for more beekeepers to fulfil the vital pollination role of the industry. The emergence of a native bee pollination industry was boosted by the honey bee crisis.
They warned bee shortages would slash yields of fruit, nuts and fruit-vegetables such as zucchinis, cucumbers, melons, pumpkins, tomatoes and avocadoes.
The Craigs warned last June that the chemical and pest-driven demise of the honey bee would threaten not only a 75% drop in honey supplies, but a major financial crisis for farmers dependent on the setting of nut flowers and fruits.