Home' Grower : February 2011 Contents The South Australian Grower -- February 2011
It's all about the bees
My dislike for bees started at a very
young age when my grandfather and
his mate from the pub legged me up
a tree to saw down a branch containing a
native bee hive to salvage the honey. They
were not native bees and yes, I did the orig-
inal gallop across the paddock and into the
Years later I attended Hawkesbury
Agricultural College. Part of my course was
to spend twelve months working with bees.
Now those bees were supposed to be gen-
tle, but I am sure they had been bred with
a genetic instinct to attack sparrows!
I finally convinced the principal that I had
no intention of ever working with bees and
he let me off as long as I got high scores in
the written exams.
I was interested in Ashley Walmsley's arti-
cle last month on Asian bees and the obvi-
ous lack of response to the threat.
It appears to me that our government and
the industry bodies have been aware for
some time about the potential threat of var-
roa mite and the secondary problems it car-
ries with it.
I have read their action plan.
Obviously now the problem is - who is
going to pay for the control measures to be
put in place?
If they don't move in a hurry an opportu-
nity will be lost and the horse will have bolt-
Mind you if our agricultural forefathers
could see the way we have ripped down the
protective barriers they put in place, they
would turn in their graves.
A lot of the literature places the bee pop-
ulation as being responsible for around 30
per cent of the food we eat.
They must be dreaming - how do we feed
cattle, pigs and chickens?
About the only food that we eat that is not
reliant on bees is seafood.
They say that there is nothing surer than
the fact that we will pay taxes and die, well
the Sparrow philosophy is that in order to
sur vive we need good soil, good water and
The Asian bee threat is just one of the
problems our bee population is facing and
they are seriously becoming an endangered
species because of our lack of care and our
If you doubt what I am saying have a look
at the list of chemicals recommended for
the recent locust spraying program.
One of them is banned in overseas coun-
tries and another is probably one of the
most powerful insecticides on the earth and
is used for termite control because the
workers carry it back to the nest.
Great Debate locked in
THE 2011 AUSVEG National Convention, Trade
Show and Awards for Excellence will host The
Great Debate on Saturday, April 16 at the Sebel-
Citigate, Brisbane from 11:30am-12:30pm.
The topic for debate is "Water usage in the
The two debaters are Dr Arlene Harriss-Buchan
from the Australian Conservation Fund and Dr
The event is sponsored by Boomaroo Nurseries.
Dr Arlene Hariss-Buchan is the Healthy Rivers
Campaign Coordinator with the Australian
She leads ACF's work on the Water for the Future
program, the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, the
National Water Initiative and all other issues relat-
ed to rivers and water.
Arlene's professional background is in science
(biochemistry) and law.
Dr Jennifer Marohasy is a biologist, Adjunct
Research Fellow in the Centre for Plant and Water
Science at CQ University, columnist for The Land
newspaper (Rural Press), founding member of the
Australian Environment Foundation and past Chair.
Trade booths going quickly
THE Exhibitor Registration Brochure for the 2011
National Convention has also been released and
places are in high demand.
Half of the available trade show booth spaces are
Continuing their Strategic Partnership with Ausveg,
Incitec Pivot Fertilisers has announced it will
return to the National Convention in 2011.
With the support of Incitec Pivot Fertilisers a series
of Plant Nutrition Sessions will take place on
Friday, April 15 during the Convention, with experts
from around Australia and the globe speaking on
all things related to crop health and nutrient appli-
Organic waste energy
THE Victorian Government (Regional Development
Victoria) is conducting a survey of organic waste
and bio-products produced by the agricultural sec-
tor across regional Victoria.
This information will be used to identify opportuni-
ties for investment in economically and environ-
mentally sustainable projects for the bio-energy
The survey includes all vegetable and potato
growers across Victoria and aims to provide repre-
sentative data on the types and amounts of waste
products produced as well as current uses, costs
and potential benefits associated with using this
material for energy production or value added
There are a range of grants available for individu-
als or organisations interested.
If you are interested in taking part in this survey
please contact Barrie May at Landscape Energy by
phoning (03) 8838 2883 or e-mail:
Downy mildew fact sheet
A FACT sheet produced by Peter Magarey, a
Research Plant Pathologist from Magarey Plant
Pathology has been released that answers fre-
quently asked questions about downy mildew.
Downy mildew is driven by the weather. The dis-
ease can devastate individual vineyards and in
some seasons, affect production from regions.
It occurs sporadically according to the suitability of
conditions for infection.
Roadblock decision postponed
A DECISION by the State Government to close the
overnight biosecurity roadblock shifts at Yamba
and Ceduna has been postponed.
Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Minister, Michael
O'Brien said the deferral until June 2011 would
enable talks to proceed with industry on cost-
The decision to defer closure of the night shifts
follows several delegations to the Minister, and
several meetings with members of the
Horticultural Plant Health Consultative Committee.
Encouraged by previous meetings, the HPHCC
recently wrote to the Minister putting forward a
proposal requesting additional input into the PIRSA
Fruit Fly Program to find cost savings which might
allow the roadblocks to continue under the current
PIRSA budget or at least at a reduced cost and
discussion on stakeholder cost sharing models.
While PIRSA has data indicating that detection of
contaminated fruit has dropped significantly in
recent years and night travel is lighter, the recent
large numbers of fruit fly outbreaks interstate and
threatened removal of fruit fly disinfestation treat-
ments dimethoate and fenthion, means that this
State faces increased pressure from potential fruit
fly outbreaks in the immediate future.
The extension allows time to ensure the best
arrangements are in place.
For now, the Ceduna and Yamba roadblocks will
continue 24 hours a day until a review is complet-
ed in June 2011 to determine future arrange-
Details: Greg Crammond, Apple and Pear
New website for NRM
THE South Australian Murray-Darling Basin
Natural Resources Management (SA MDB NRM)
Board is pleased to announce the activation of a
new and improved website:
The website address remains the same, but the
'look and feel' has been modified to make the
website easy to navigate.
Information about the SA MDB NRM Board's five
assets - land, water, biodiversity, people and
atmosphere - can be accessed, along with media
releases, publications, volunteer opportunities and
The website also contains comprehensive
information about the organisation, region, Board
members and NRM Groups.
• A practical guide to rural land
February 2 - April 20
• Food SA Networking Night - how to
enter new markets
Waite Institute, Adelaide
Details: Food SA 0883039435
• Think Food Trade Show
Adelaide Show Ground
Details: Mary Ferguson on 0412420856 or
• Branding and marketing natural and
organic products conference
• International Symposium on
managing organic matter and using
compost in horticulture
• AUSVEG Annual National Convention,
Trade Show and Awards for
Sebel-Citigate, Brisbane, Queensland
Details: email@example.com or (03) 9822
with WALLY SPARROW
Overseas in the United States and Europe,
bee losses or colony collapse disorder is a
major problem and farmers are becoming
very concerned about it.
Battles continue in courts between chemi-
cal companies and the bee industry, but the
bottom line is that improper use of chemi-
cals is a primary cause.
Some seed treatments are absorbed by the
plant and returned to nature by pollen.
Poor timing of insecticide spraying and
spray drift cause a lot of problems.
We constantly belt our friends developing
GMO crops around the head, however,
research is under way to determine the
effect of GMO crops that produce BT type
compounds with insecticidal ability.
Work is also constantly being carried out
looking at viral and fungal infections that
are often transmitted by pests such as varroa
Would you believe that mobile phones are
also on the suspect list with electromagnet-
Apparently a lot of the trouble with factors
affecting bees is not a direct kill but is a sec-
ondar y effect that weakens the bees ability
to find and return to its nest.
This results in population reduction and
eventually star vation.
Climate change is also a suspect as it alters
the flowering time of some crops, but I per-
sonally fail to see merit in that one.
Russian honey bees and British bred
strains have shown resistance to varroa mite,
however, they fall down in other areas, and
have no long term future in commercial api-
Regardless of all of the hype, we really
must start to take a look at the preser vation
of our bee populations.
This includes an immediate reaction to the
Asian bee threat, the better selection and
use of insecticides, and strong support for
our beekeepers in their disease management
We are dropping our guard on bio securi-
ty badly (Chinese apples - my God!) and we
must place a higher priority on that.
The Italian Ligurian bee was introduced to
Kangaroo Island in 1880 and is unique in
the world. It is also a source of genetic
material to Australia and the world.
Imagine if we dropped our guard and
allowed Asian bees or apiary materials from
the mainland to enter there. You say that is
impossible - it is a lot further from Asia to
North Queensland than across the
Backstairs Passage, yet the Asian Bees made
it to Cairns and nobody seems to care.
If you want to sting me or send honey you can con-
tact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0419
Contact PETER 0427 883 360
OR TOBY 0427 715 174
Fruit Bins for Sale
Wooden storage bins 1200mm square
x 880mm h. Originally used for bottled
wine storage. Modified so that top half
can be removed. Two halves held in
place with stainless steel collar.
Stackable. Good condition.
Pick up from McLaren Vale
Telephone: 08 8329 4888 for details
Only $30 each
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