A New $2 Coin Features to Celebrate for Introducing Honeybee Species, Really the Species of Honeybee We Should Celebrate. Recently the Royal Australian Mint has released a $2 collectors’ coin for celebrating 200 years of introducing the European honeybee. At the time of writing this article in the year 2022, one of that 60,000 uncirculated coins was selling for as high as A$36.
The coin celebrates an IAS (invasive alien species), as a tradition from long before in Australia to romanticize introducing ceremony. In the meantime, they’ve missed an important opportunity to showcase Australia’s native pollinators (honey bee), which are really threatened for native species.
They’re excited to give us the 1st look at a new $2 coin they have been secretly developing with the @RoyalAustMint to celebrate 200 years of European honey bees & their hardworking beekeepers for sale & in circulation very soon!
Honeybees: two sides of the coin
The coin was released to mark the two-hundredth anniversary of Australia’s honey bee industry. Early European settlers at first introduced honey bee in Australia and currently there are about 530,000 managed honeybee colonies for producing honey and pollination service.
Remember, the commercial honeybee industry provides pollination services for a range of crops, as well as producing honey, Royal jelly, including Wax and Honey related products. The industry is expensive, but bring a lot of benefits. But the introduced honeybee (European honey bee), can affect native species.
European Honeybees can take over large tree hollows to build new colonies, and potentially displacing native species. Tree hollows can take a few decades to form. And bee colonies occupy hollows for a long time. So, this becomes a long-term problem for native bees.
Many native species also like tree hollows for making beehive and breeding there. So, they are likely to be affected by competition from European honeybees. They are also threatened for birds such as the superb parrot and glossy black cockatoo, as well as a range of native marsupials and mammals.
European Honeybees, both feral (natural grown) and managed, also compete with native species for nectar, propolis and pollen in flowers. Research has shown they often extract 80% or more of floral resources, so less than 20% remain for native species.
Unrealized pollinator potential
Beekeepers around the world have become “dangerously dependent” on managed honeybee hives to pollinate their crops. Gradually, honeybee colonies are declining due to threats such as parasites, climate change and pesticides etc. While Australia has been protected from some of these threats, but relying on a single managed pollinator is still considered risky. Because, Australia is the only inhabited continent which is free of the varroa mite (a parasite responsible for the collapse of bee colonies).
If this mite become established in Australia, it could lead to losses of $70 million a year in agriculture industry. Fortunately, this varroa mite has very little impact on native bee species. In Australia the bees, butterflies, and bats, all contribute total of $14 billion in pollination industry.
Moreover, Australia’s 11 species of stingless bees can produce honey, but not to the extent honey bees can. However, they can pollinate blueberries, macadamias and mangoes. Some native bee species can nest on the ground and pollinate crops. But, honeybee hives are often shifted or transported from crop to crop and pollination by non-commercial native species is free of cost.
A recent study found that the common native resin bees (Megachile which is Ranging in size from about 8 to 14 mm) are more efficient at pollination than honeybees. Heavy growth in blueberries are resulting from pollination by stingless bees. But, more research is needed to assess the actual potential of native pollinators.
What species should we celebrate?
When species are featured on a coin, it raise or lift to a higher position; Their profile cause or give rise to public affection; and, according to the Royal Australian Mint, “tell the stories of Australia”. Australia’s native species are tending to keep a firm hold, sometimes the loser (defeated) fighting for a fair go in a harsh environment.
In response to this article, the chair person of the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council, named Trevor Weatherhead, said the Royal Australian Mint “took the opportunity, after representation from our industry, to highlight a very important and essential pollinator that makes an enormous contribution to the Australian economy. If people want other pollinators (bee, or butterfly etc.) to be featured on a coin then they can approach the mint to do so.”