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The big dry, bees and building honey production

USQ Masters student Terrina Bailey’s research is looking at the impact of drought on honey production.

As northern and eastern parts of Australia readies itself for higher rainfall thanks to an emerging La Nina weather pattern, a University of Southern Queensland Masters student is already forward planning to the next big dry through research that aims to understand the impact of drought on honey production.

Terrina Bailey is in the early stages of a Master of Science, looking at how beekeepers are managing honey production in drought declared areas of Queensland.

Basing much of her work in central Queensland, Ms Bailey is gathering both scientific and anecdotal data from apiarists in the region.

“I’m a novice beekeeper myself and have a keen understanding of how much not only Australian agriculture and horticulture rely on healthy bee stocks, but how much value honey products bring to the local economy,” she said.

“Honey is such an important commodity for Australia and we’re currently free of the invasive Varroa mite pest that is affecting many other honey producing countries. So, it’s important to collect as much knowledge as we can about big dry events so we can continue to produce honey and bee breeding stocks at a high standard.”

Ms Bailey is asking beekeepers if they are noticing a reduced number of flowering native plants and flowers that have impacted honey productivity in recent years.

“I’m hopeful that the study will allow greater insight into how the beekeeping industry in drought affected areas in the state have fared in recent years, but how we can maintain honey production in Queensland during through major drought events.”

Beekeepers in regions that have been or currently are drought affected in Queensland are encouraged to get in touch with Ms Bailey at terrinabailey@gmail.com.

Two people kneeling.
University of Southern Queensland Master of Science student Terrina Bailey meets with central Queensland beekeeper, Mr Ken Murray, as part of her research into the impact of drought on honey production. Image supplied by Terrina Bailey.