Saturday 17th Nov, 2018

Bee prepared for varroa attacks, scientists warn

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Shutterstock

AUSTRALIA’S ability to respond to a varroa mite incursion is to be put under the microscope as part of Exercise Bee Prepared.

Australian chief plant protection officer, Dr Kim Ritman, said as part of Exercise Bee Prepared, workshops were being held in several jurisdictions.

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“Varroa mite is a significant honey bee parasite in other countries around the world. It causes colonies to decline, as well as transmits viruses in bees and is one of our most unwanted biosecurity pests,” Dr Ritman said.

“Australia has over 20,000 beekeepers, the honey industry is valued at over $90m a year and bees provide pollination services estimated to be worth $4-6bn per year.

“We are the only continent free of varroa destructor and to provide assurance that the measures we have in place would allow us to effectively respond to and manage a varroa incursion, it is important that we put them to the test.”

Dr Ritman said Exercise Bee Prepared workshops allowed for tailored scenarios being run in each state and territory to help demonstrate preparedness to detect, contain and manage incursion.

“To date, over 160 government and honey bee industry representatives have been through the workshops, which have highlighted areas where we are doing well and where potential improvements can be made,” he said.

“It has been a great opportunity to share information and learn from jurisdictions and experts from the honeybee industry, to ensure Australia has the best possible chance to manage a varroa incursion.”

The workshops are being delivered by Plant Health Australia and are bankrolled by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

Workshops have been run in the ACT, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia.  The final workshops are to include one in the Northern Territory in mid-September and a Commonwealth workshop at the end of October.

For more information on the Exercise Bee Prepared, visit Plant Health Australia.



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