Thesis: Modelling for year round high-value honey production sites
My project will create models that can be used by apiarists to predict the productivity of a hive site. Predictions will be made based on the species of flora present and the area of the flora at the site. Models will inform decisions regarding optimal locations for hives, optimal timing of movement of hives between locations and flora enrichment to improve site productivity and honey quality. We will account for temporal variation in flowering, nectar and pollen production, as well as bee colony population dynamics. Spatial factors such as plant location, density, patchiness and bee foraging preferences may also be included. Predictive models will be validated, optimised and refined through monitoring honey bee product production, bee health and bee movement on flora at a number of study sites.
Why my research is important
Commercial and semi-commercial beekeepers in Australia and internationally are returning to stationary beekeeping. This move comes as suitable habitat for honey bees declines, the cost of transport increases and we face concerns regarding the impact of hive migration on honey bee health and pest and disease transfer.
Restoring lands with high-value, high-yielding melliferous flora can create productive year-round stationary enterprises. However, restoration efforts are made difficult by a lack of guidelines and tools for designing and developing sites. This project will provide the tools necessary for creating sustainable and productive stationary sites.