Australia’s lucrative bee industry is under attack with populations declining.
But a QUT student is pioneering research to keep the ninety two million dollar industry free from disease.
Zarisha Bradley reports.
A world without bees would also mean a world without many rainforests, plants and crops.
Bees are responsible for one of every three bites of food we eat.
Jack Stone, Apiarist “Bee One Third”: “They’re not just the producer of sweet delicious honey. But they are a provider of vital and necessary pollination as well.”
Diseases, particularly one called American Foulbrood or AFB, are contributing to what’s know as “colony collapse disorder”.
Jack Stone, Apiarist “Bee One Third”: “If all of a sudden there were no insects that were able to perform that vital act of pollination then we would see the environment lash back and almost like a rubber band pulling it right to it’s extreme then letting go.”
Meet Lille Gill, an honours student working to prevent disease invading hives. She’s analysing the fingerprint of the AFB.
Lille Gill, QUT Science Honours Student: “Three stages that you go through. Injection, separation and detection.”
Lille Gill, QUT Science Honours Student: “What we’re looking at here is all of the individual compounds that make up the overall odour.”
With a bachelor of science under her belt…THIS is now her office. It’s QUT’s Central Analytical Research Facility.
Lille Gill, QUT Science Honours Student: “In 2015, Department of Primary Industries actually did a survey on what AFB is actually costing beekeepers in New South Wales and it averages out to about $13,000 per bee keeper per year.”
Lille Gill, QUT Science Honours Student: “The flow and affects of a world with no bees is what motivates me to do what I’m doing.”
With the recent development of Flow Hives, anyone can be backyard beekeepers with honey literally on tap. But they share similar risks as conventional hives.
Lille Gill, QUT Science Honours Student: “Its a worry that people won’t be being as involved in there bees as they need to, to make sure there healthy.”
It’s still a work in progress but Miss Gill is doing the groundwork to accomplish the first prototype sensor to assist the bee industry. The sensor will be more efficient and productive than traditional methods.
Like Jack, most beekeepers manually check for diseases.
Sensors can be monitored with smartphones… They’ll save time and money allowing earlier and more accurate disease detection.
That will result in less or hopefully no outbreaks.
Jack Stone, Apiarist “Bee one Third”: “This technology is merely just the start of what is to come within for the beekeeping and agricultural industry.”
Each day Lille gets closer to completing her task and then seeing it put to the test.
Lille Gill, QUT Science Honours Student: “We’ll be able to programme the sensor array from the enos and hopefully come out and start testing some hives, see if we can smell some AFB. Well you’ve got the perfect apiarist here to come and test the goods.”
Zarisha Bradley, QUT News.