Balancing the competing interests of land and fire management to secure a competitive beekeeping industry

Developing new approaches for a ‘license to operate’ in the Western Australian beekeeping industry

This project will examine the social, political and ecological barriers and opportunities for securing optimal hive site accessibility (license to operate) now and into the future. A license to operate is a priority for ensuring the productivity and profitability of the WA beekeeping industry, and for negotiating with industry, hobbyists, the general public, and stakeholders over the reform needed to expand the industry in light of competing interests.

Currently, there is little understanding of the distribution, impact, and measures for managing bee sites as a means of a ‘licence to operate’. A boom in beekeeping has seen rising numbers of hobbyists and commercial operators compete for scarce resources.

Honey bee sites are usually on public lands and may be remote. A ‘licence to operate’ must be developed in the context of competing land uses and resources, a wide range of stakeholders with diverse agendas and political agency, and compounding factors (such as wild bees, native species and environment conservation, declining honey yields, climate stressors, and prescribed burning or wildfires).

To achieve effective community/stakeholder engagement in designing and implementing strategic policy interventions also requires myth-busting and evidence-based recommendations.

For more background information, see the suggested readings below.

Research team leader: Dr Clare Mouat

I am a Geography and Planning Lecturer in the UWA School of Agriculture and Environment (SAgE) with degrees in geography, economics, and planning. My multi-disciplinary research extends from political economies of community development to political ecologies of healthy environments. My expertise lies in social sustainability of housing and land-use development at local to metropolitan scales, public policy and governance, community health and well-being, conflict and civility in transformational change. This project will be co-supervised by Dr Bryan Boruff.

PhD opportunities

Interested in becoming part of this project? Complete the following steps to submit your expression of interest:

Step 1 - Check criteria

General UWA PhD entrance requirements can be found on the Future Students website.

Requirements specific to this project include:

  • Experience, skills and/or a keen interest in geography, environmental science, natural resource management, political ecology, geographic information systems, or similar.
  • Ability to operate in an outdoors in an observational environment (native bush and remote locations).
  • Willingness to work as part of a large interdisciplinary team and achieve outcomes through a combination of planning, working independently, and collaborating with other team members.
  • Willingness to engage with external stakeholders, such as private companies and government departments, and effectively present scientific research results to this audience.
  • Excellent interpersonal and oral communication skills.
  • A working knowledge of geographic information systems and spatial data collection approaches is highly desired.
  • A limited fear of bees and bee stings. Bee allergies should be a consideration.

Step 2 - Submit enquiry to research team leader

Step 3 - Lodge application

After you have discussed your project with the research team leader, you should be in a position to proceed to the next step of the UWA application process: Lodge an applicationDifferent application procedures apply to domestic and international students.


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