PUP Senator lobbies for bumblebee pollination trials

A Palmer United Party Senator has lobbied Treasurer Joe Hockey for bumblebee pollination trials and a smaller mushroom growers levy, as part of Federal Budget negotiations. Jacquie Lambie has told the Treasurer she wants bumblebee pollination trials in Tasmania because there is evidence it can improve yields in tomato crops.

In an ABC Rural report today, Senator Lambie said bumblebees have been shown to increase yields in tomato crops, and that she has been lobbied by local producers to fight for a trial.

“All I wanted Joe to do was to help to allow a trial which allowed bumble bees to pollinate crops in greenhouses in Tasmania,” she said.

“I’m not sure if people know this, but evidence abroad shows that there’s a 13% increase in production if bumble bees are placed in greenhouses with certain crops.”

Bumblebees were accidentally introduced to Tasmania in 1992 and there are fears they could spread to mainland Australia.

It’s been reported the bees can cause widespread damage by spreading weeds, competing with native bees and birds for nectars, and suppressing seed production in some native plants.

But Ms Lambie says she hasn’t seen any evidence of these threats in the years since the bees were introduced to Tasmania.

“I look at it like this when it comes to our bumblebees,” she said.

“They’ve been down here for 10 or 15 years, that’s the first thing.

“The second thing is they fly around in our kitchens and in our lounge rooms. What’s the difference in having them in our glasshouses?”

A full report of Senator Lambie’s comments can be heard at:

Audio: PUP Senator Jacquie Lambie wants bumblebee pollination trials in Tasmania and a lower mushroom growers levy (ABC Rural)

 Posted 7 August 2014