By Ian Cane, Mick Camilleri and Neil Barraclough
As far as human survival is concerned, the honey bee is one of the most important insects on the planet.
For members interested in going on a Forest Tour to learn about our Forests, please phone our club and express your interest.
We need to look after our forests, not only for ourselves, our animals, birds, insects, and plants but they are the lungs of our planet earth and the water purifier for our catchments.
So what is happening to the Forests of Gippsland? Unfortunately the history of our forests since European settlement has been woeful, especially the misguided management by Vic Forests. It seems the key driver for Vic Forests was to fulfil a pulp timber contract to Maryvale Pulp Mill in Japan. To fulfill this contract they have raped and pillaged our forests without thought for sustainability into the future. On top of this our forests have been burnt by wildfires with only pockets of forest left. It will take fifty to 100 years to replace, and this needs to be done with knowledge and expertise.
There are proven methods of harvesting our forests in a sustainable way. Sustainable Forests can go on forever, they can supply timber to our timber mills (currently closed down) that could supply housing timber, and instead we import it. Most of our forests are held in Public Land and paid for by Tax Payers and are there for “All uses and Values”. These being, natural fauna and flora, forests are a natural water purifier, carbon retention, and climate change protection, general use by the public, used for Honey Bee Sites for Commercial Beekeepers and also for the timber industry. For all these “Uses and Values” the forest needs good management. Below is a little history on what has been happening to our forests over the last fifty years or so.
For many years the Victorian and Gippsland Apiarist Associations have lobbied for a change to Timber Harvesting Prescriptions for a range of reasons, not only for beekeeping. Honey bees are a vitally important part of food production and the food security of our State and Nation. The content of our children’s lunchboxes and our meals would be vastly different without honey bees which are our premier pollinator!
Many food crops are dependent on honey bees for pollination; the dollar value is forecast to be approximately $14 billion Australia wide and $6 billion for Victoria. Just one example is the Almond Industry, with a $1 billion farm gate value. This year (2021) 270,000 beehives were required to pollinate the Almond Orchards, by 2025, 350,000 will be required. No Bees-No Almonds.
The United Nations forecast for world food supply requirements is to grow significantly in line with population growth; the demand for healthy honey bees is also forecast to grow at an even greater rate. If Australia is to become the food bowl of Asia and achieve the Federal Government’s target of $100 billion Agricultural products by 2030, healthy honey bees will be a critical component.