Professor Boris Baer is one of the committed researchers working to ensure the survival of bees in Australia. This is even more crucial, he explains, because of Australia’s reliance on feral bees.
"We need about 750,000 hives to pollinate our crops but we currently have only about 500,000 managed colonies. A lot of the pollination is done by feral bees at the moment, but they are expected to be wiped out by Varroa,” he said.
In a project supported by the Australian Research Council and breeding program Better Bees, Professor Baer is examining the immune system of bees. Eventually, Professor Baer and his team hope to breed more parasite-tolerant bees and produce new treatments against diseases. p>
This is just one of a range of research projects supported by The Future Bees Fund. At The University of Western Australia, the Centre for Integrative Bee Research combines expertise from beekeepers, sociobiologists, evolutionary ecologists and molecular biologists to conduct projects spanning basic scientific research and applied scientific research. In addition, the Future Bees Fund provides support for early career researchers.
Basic Scientific Research
Honeybees are a well established model organism for basic scientific research as a wide range of technologies and methods have been adapted for the usage in bees as well. This offers unique opportunities to gain novel insights into the biology of honeybees, which are crucial to understand the complexity of bees and their societies. The Fund therefore supports basic scientific research into honeybees to broaden our general understanding about their biology.
Applied Scientific Research
The dramatic losses of honeybees on a global scale require novel and smarter approaches to keep managed bees and to ensure their availability for pollination services. Novel technologies and tools for beekeepers to support keeping bees alive can be developed through research and development. The Fund is therefore interested to support applied research projects.