Senate Committee inquiry into the commercial use of bumblebees in Tasmania

Bumblebee_webOn 3 February 2016, the Senate referred to the Environment and Communications References Committee a range of matters relating to the risks and opportunities associated with the use of the bumblebee population in Tasmania for commercial purposes. The committee has invited written submissions addressing issues that may be of relevance, to be lodged by 3 March 2016.

The economic benefits of the bumblebee pollination in protected cropping greenhouses and in field crop situations, are well documented around the world. A mature commercial breeding and hive distribution industry developed decades ago in Europe and is now present in  Africa, Asia and the Americas specifically to enable improved pollination in both protected and field cropping situations across a comprehensive range of fruit and fruiting vegetable crops. Bumblebee pollinators for greenhouse tomatoes have led to at least a 20% improvement in yields compared to current hand pollination techniques.

Specific issues mentioned in the notice papers for the inquiry are:

  • The existing distribution and population density of exotic bumblebees;
  • Productivity and economic benefits of the commercial use of bumblebees for agricultural producers;
  • The potential environmental impacts associated with the commercial use of bumblebees, including whether their use is likely to:
  1. impact the conservation status of a species or ecological community,
  2. impact biodiversity,
  3. cause unintended ecological impacts, and
  4. contribute to a wider distribution of bumblebees;
  • The implications for Australia’s biosecurity regime of any approval to use bumblebees in Tasmania for commercial purposes;
  • The potential economic outcomes;
  • The effectiveness of alternative pollination options; and
  • Any other related matters.

Information relating to Senate committee inquiries, including notes to assist in the preparation of submissions for a committee, can be located on the internet at


Protected Cropping Australia (PCA), the peak industry body representing commercial hydroponic and greenhouse growers, has prepared a draft submission, which comprehensively addresses the Senate Committee’s terms of reference, where interested parties can simply insert their name and address. For more information email:

The Environment and Communications References Committee is expected to complete its inquiry and report by 22 June 2016.  Ω

Posted 24 February 2016