Recently I had the opportunity to be part of the 2019 When Bee Foundation, Bee Ambassador Program. The Wheen Bee Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation promoting awareness of the importance of bees & raising funds for research addressing the national and global threats to bees. The Bee Ambassador initiative was launched in 2018 in response to CEO Fiona Chambers acknowledging all the work numerous bee champions do around Australia who volunteer their time as passionate advocate for bees in the community. This program is an opportunity for bee ambassadors to share their initiatives with others who are similarly enthusiastic about bees and inspired to make a difference.
The program is delivered over three days with the first two days a focused on leadership, advocacy, team management and communication skills while the third day comprises of site tours and visits. About twenty other Bee Ambassadors from all around Australia joined the program and it was a fantastic opportunity to discover all the different work and education programs being delivered to raise the awareness of pollination, food security, pests and diseases around beekeeping. Another key part of the program was readdressing the importance of team building skills and communications skills, and structuring meetings which can be applied back into our local bee clubs and work. Dinner included guest speakers from Chair AHBIC Peter MacDonald, President Oceania Regional Commission Apimondia) Jodie Goldsworthy and CEO of Wheen Bee Foundation Fiona Chambers. The third day was certainly a highlight with the day tour to Agriculture Victoria then the Melbourne Post Quarantine Facility and Melbourne University. While at Agriculture Victoria, the team shared their award-winning biosecurity program that last year was responsible for the successful intervention of Varroa infected honey bees at Port Melbourne. A take-away was the importance for all your hives to be registered as this was key to AgVictoria to contacting beekeepers and checking hives within different kilometre radius from the site.
Next, we had a tour, of the $379M Post Entry Quarantine facility which was designed to protect the Australian agriculture industry. There we walked through the state-of-the-art bee importation facility that has been set up for the safe importation of the honey bee genetics into Australia. Although the facility is still new, a first project is to be launched later in the year. The afternoon we were invited to listen to latest research in Bees at the University of Melbourne. Some of the topics included “Minimising the effects of Varroa incursion in Australia (Bob Owain)”, “Queen pheromones and their effect on the behaviour and physiology of workers (Ass Prof Adrian Dyer)” and “How bees use their colour and pattern vision to find flowers in complex environments (Dr Luke Holman).”
Overall it was a great networking and learning program delivered by the Wheen Bee Foundation and I look forward to implementing some of the learnings back into GCABS.
By Lisa Devereaux (GCABS Secretary)
Thank you to the GCABS committee who helped contribute to part of the enrolment fee for attendance to the program.
About The Wheen Bee Foundation
The Wheen Bee Foundation supports research projects and activities aimed at keeping honey bees healthy. Working with all levels of government, the apiculture industry, bee-reliant food industries, universities, research organisations and community, we fund vital strategic research and education initiatives that strengthen honey bees, improve pollination efficiency and increase food security. For more information and to donate please go to https://www.wheenbeefoundation.org.au.