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Apiarists angry at research loss

Rueben HaleThe West Australian

A world-renowned WA bee researcher has lost his job at DAFWA.

Dr Robert Manning has worked as a researcher on pollen and on the effect of chemicals on bees for more than 30 years.

His redundancy comes in the wake of the string of job cuts which have plagued the cash-strapped agency in the past 12 months.

Labor Agriculture Region MLC Darren West told parliament last week that the removal of Dr Manning was a travesty for the WA bee industry.

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"Although that is a relatively small industry versus livestock and grain production, Western Australia has an excellent competitive advantage in this industry, because we produce what is acknowledged as the world's finest honey," he said.

"Our WA jarrah honey is also streets ahead as a prebiotic compared with other types of honey.

"We need to do the research to prove this and convince the world that our WA jarrah honey not only has therapeutic values but is an excellent food. Honey is the only food that does not spoil."

Mr West said in the absence of Dr Manning the WA industry would be at increased risk.

"There is also now no dedicated bee inspector in Western Australia," he said.

"I point out also that there are concerns in the industry about port surveillance and quarantine inspection because there is confusion about who is doing what in that space. That is a very big threat to our industry. The varroa mite from Asia is very real and is already in the Eastern States."

Muchea beekeeper and honey processor Kim Fewster said the department had disposed of an encyclopaedia of intricate knowledge specific to the WA bee industry.

"The department has been slow in developing a contingency for the absence of Dr Manning," he said.

"Dr Manning's experience cannot be replicated overnight and, as a result, our State's industry will be under increased biosecurity threat and also without a person familiar with the machinations of the industry."

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