Crop and Pasture Science Crop and Pasture Science Society
Plant sciences, sustainable farming systems and food quality

The future of pollinators for Australian agriculture

Saul A. Cunningham, Frances FitzGibbon and Tim A. Heard

Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 53(8) 893 - 900
Published: 19 August 2002


Agriculture in Australia is highly dependent on insect pollination, in particular from the introduced western honeybee, Apis mellifera. Most agricultural pollination is provided as an unpaid service by feral A. mellifera and native insects. A smaller proportion of agricultural pollination is provided as a paid service by beekeepers. Insect pollination is threatened by misuse of insecticides and the loss of remnant vegetation, but most potently by the likelihood that the honeybee mite, Varroa destructor, will enter the country. Now is the time to prepare for the effect of these changes, and international experience with pollinator decline should serve as a guide. We need to protect and manage our remnant vegetation to protect wild pollinators. Insurance against declining A. mellifera will come through the development of management practices for alternative pollinator species. By developing native insects as pollinators we can avoid the risks associated with the importation of additional introduced species.

© CSIRO 2002

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