Crowdfunding to fight the mite
The Varroa “Destructor” mite has spread across the globe in the past 50 years, decimating bee populations everywhere, and now it is in Australia.
Corinne Jordan is crowdfunding to help Australian honeybees fight the Varroa mite.
Corinne is a Queen Bee Breeder with over 10 years’ experience based in South East Queensland. She is a committee member of the Australian Queen Bee Breeders Association, having held the titles previously of Vice President and Secretary. She also represents the AQBBA on the Plan Bee (National honey bee genetic improvement program) steering committee.
Corinne is recognised as an industry expert in queen bee breeding and has the capacity, skills, and knowledge to breed for Varroa resistance.
We are delighted that she selected the ReadyFundGo platform for her crowdfunding campaign as we are passionate about the environment and protecting Australia’s biodiversity. We interviewed Corinne to find out a bit more about the mite and how she got to become the “Queen Bee of the Queen Bees”.
How did you get to become a Queen Bee Breeder or the “Queen Bee of Queen Bees”?
When I first started beekeeping I purchased a group of 20 hives from a commercial beekeeper who bought his queens from a well known queen producer. The rest of the hives were purchased from “hobby” beekeepers who allowed the bees to reproduce their own queens. The difference was profound.
The commercial beekeepers queens generated robust, healthy, productive colonies and were delightful to work. So very early on I became aware of the advantages of a superior queen and that set me on a quest to breed the ultimate queen.
What is Varroa Destructor and why does it matter?
Varroa Destructor is a parasitic mite of honey bees. Varroa feeds off the fat bodies of the developing and adult honey bees causing an open wound which weakens the bee. This reduces the bees lifespan with injuries to the developing bee causing deformities. The bees learning ability is impaired together with their ability to gather nectar and pollen.
Large mite infestations eventually lead to the death of the whole honeybee colony.
How scared should we be about the problem?
Australia’s pollination industry relies on unmanaged (or feral) bee colonies for pollination.
When Varroa arrived in other countries it progressively killed all feral honey bees leaving only managed bee colonies.
The impact to Australia’s economy is estimated by government at $70 million a year. We also expect a further reduction in the number of colonies as beekeepers leave the industry due to difficulty managing Varroa.
It is known from previous research that our bees have no resistance to Varroa Destructor and will be devastated without some form of intervention.
No other country has managed to eradicate Varroa once they have established.
Every adult Varroa mite is pregnant as soon as she leaves the honeybee brood cell where she has been developing and feeding , she is already mated and has all the future reproductive material stored ready to reproduce the moment she finds another developing honeybee larvae. This makes them a formidable foe.
As more deadly infestations are discovered we should be very worried.
What made you think of using crowdfunding to help in the fight against the Varroa Destructor?
Over the years I have seen many successful crowdfunding campaigns raising funds where there is a matter of urgency for a worthy cause.
We initially approached industry funding bodies but all funding is currently focused on eradicating Varroa and there is no funding available for breeding for resistance. There is an urgency to breeding bees for Varroa resistance. The sooner we start the more protection we can achieve faster if eradication doesn’t succeed.
Once you had decided to use crowdfunding how long did it take you to create your campaign?
The ReadyFundGo crowd funding site was very easy to navigate and I built the campaign very quickly and easily.
What was the most difficult part of creating your campaign page?
Explaining the concept in a way that would grab attention and gain the readers interest.
Did you have an audience built in advance of your campaign and if so, how had you acquired them?
For the past 8 years we have had a social media presence which has a reasonable following. We have used this and other social media groups focusing on beekeeping in Australia where we have asked them to share the campaign.
What marketing activities have you been undertaking since your campaign went live/are you planning?
We have sent out press releases to media and have participated in podcast interviews. I am due to give a presentation to Australian Queen Bee Breeders Association and have produced some promotional materials to handout at an upcoming state conference. I am also currently organising to sell some honey and other products with the proceeds going towards the project.
Have you had any nice surprises whilst you have been running your campaign to date?
The generosity and kindness of people who are not only financially supportive but also sharing the campaign around and testifying to my character and ability to achieve this.
Corinne has partnered with Dr Nadine Chapman from the University of Sydney on her mission to save our honeybees.
If you would like to support Corinne and Nadine to help Australian bees breed resistance to the Varroa Destructor please support the campaign HERE.