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Bee speaker creates a buzz in Whittlesea

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By Michael Halley

Victorian Apiarists Association Melbourne Section secretary Rob Kerr gave an insightful address about beekeeping, both from a commercial and hobby perspective, at the Combined Probus Club of Whittlesea’s September meeting.

Mr Kerr said bees were crucial for the survival of humans.

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They pollinate about 35 per cent of the world’s food crops and are essential for diverse and healthy plant life.

Mr Kerr’s visit coincided with the arrival of spring, evident across the district where honey bees were active pollinating flowers, trees, shrubs and food crops.

The presentation featured a series of explanatory slides that showed the lifecycle of the honey bee – a truly complex, yet organised community.

The bee colony is a sophisticated society, made up of three categories a single fertile queen bee, hundreds of male drone bees and thousands of sterile female worker bees.

Mr Kerr outlined in detail the roles of each of the types of bees.

He said honey bees were as ageless as recorded history as remnant honey has been found in antiquities.

Rob Kerr explains the significant role of bees.

Mr Kerr said bees used the sun, or light polarised by clouds, to navigate easily to five kilometres from the hive; even with a full load of nectar they attain 30 kilometres an hour.

He said the Australian honey industry was currently ultra-cautious as varroa mite had been detected in biosecurity surveillance hives at the Port of Newcastle, New South Wales.

The varroa mite is described as the biggest threat to the beekeeping industry across the world.

Australia is the only country to not have varro mite established.

Queensland, South Australia and Victoria have all banned the import of any bees from NSW to avoid transfer of the varroa mite.

The initial finding at Newcastle spread to two distant locations through normal beekeeping activity. The source of the varroa mite infestation is yet to be determined.

The speaking session ended with audience applause, and a small token of appreciation delivered by the club’s speaker coordinator Teresa Carlin.

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