Mid North Coast beekeeper, Daryl Brenton of The Beekeeper's Honey, is one of six NSW-based beekeepers accepted into a first of its kind action research project for the beekeeping industry aimed at supporting the productivity and sustainability of beekeepers as they adapt in the face of climate change.
"It's come at the right time," Mr Brenton said. He has bee farms between Port Macquarie and Kempsey and was significantly impacted by bushfires.
"We'd just come through the fires and now we've had these major floods so I'm excited about the potential of collaborating with other beekeepers.
"The beekeeping industry is generally quite fragmented as it's unique to location and business structure, so it'll be great to be brought together to look toward the future.
"Rather than just having beekeepers stumble across problems and solutions individually, to have a group of us identifying current issues and working towards solving them with strategies and technology is going to be really beneficial."
The Wheen Bee Foundation are funding the 5 Bees program from their Bushfire Rebuild and Recovery Fund.
"It's a really great accolade to be awarded one of these scholarships," Fiona Chambers, CEO of Wheen Bee Foundation said.
"The scholarship will allow beekeepers to trial new technologies and practices in their businesses over the next three years."
Based on action research principles, the participating beekeepers identify and drive the program focus based on what's most relevant to them.
Two small groups of seven and eight beekeepers from across Australia will be supported by an experienced group facilitator and industry experts will participate as guest speakers to talk on topics identified by the group.
A small budget is available to each group to allow beekeepers to test and trial new technologies and evaluate their value for adoption.
It may be the first program of its kind for the beekeeping industry, but action research is certainly not new.
Almost every other agricultural industry has benefited from similar programs over the past 30 years.
The Wheen Bee Foundation is Australia's only registered not-for-profit charity that promotes awareness of the importance of bees for food security, and raises funds for research that addresses the national and global threats to bees.
It was established when Gretchen Wheen, one of the first suppliers of quality queen bees to Australian commercial beekeepers, made a living bequest, donating her estate to establish the Wheen Bee Foundation.
Gretchen Wheen had an incredibly sharp mind and very generous spirit, along with a passion for bees and beekeeping.
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