July 21 2014 Skeptics Café
Presenter: Dr Ken Walker, Discovery Centre, Museum of Melbourne
Australia has about 1,700 native bee species and several exotic introduced bees. This talk will discuss some of the pest parasitic mites that attack European honeybees and the problems they cause – fortunately, Australia is the last continent (except Antarctica) that does not have these mites. It is estimated that Australia receives about $5 billion worth of free pollination each year from the European honeybee to anything that affects this eco-service will have major consequences to agriculture. The talk will also introduce the vibrant and diverse Australian native bee fauna.
Ken has been the Curator of Entomology at Museum Victoria for over 34 years. He originally studied at the University of Queensland gaining Bachelor and Masters degrees and then received a PhD in Systematics from LaTrobe University.
Ken curates the Museum Victoria’s insect collection estimated at about 3 million specimens, interacts with the public through Exhibitions (such as the Bugs Alive! exhibition) and answering general public questions and also conducts research into Australia’s native bee fauna.
Ken has described almost 200 new species of native bees and only now are we beginning to know what bees occur in Australia and what plants do they pollinate. With one in every three mouthfuls of food we eat a direct result of pollination, it is no wonder that people have an interest in bees.