MELBOURNE’S famously miserable winter weather appears to have come to the aid of Australia’s honey bee industry.
Last week it was reported a bee colony (in a wooden crate) infested with varroa mites was found on a ship from the USA. Some varroa mites (there are different varieties) have devastated honey bee colonies around the world but have hitherto been kept out of Australia.
A spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources said the bees were destroyed and the crate had been treated to manage any other potential risks.
“We are confident that this detection is isolated to a single colony,” the spokesperson said.
Moreover, the weather proved to be an ally.
“Weather conditions meant the bees were lethargic, which would impact on their ability to fly off the ship,” the spokesperson said.
According to the Department, there is no evidence of spread outside of the affected cargo and surveillance of sentinel hives at the port had returned negative results for varroa mite.
“We will continue working with Agriculture Victoria to conduct regular surveillance of the sentinel hives at the port,” the spokesperson said.
“We will also be establishing new sentinel hives in the region and conducting floral sweep netting in the port precinct and the adjoining parkland.”
The source of the detection is reportedly being investigated.
“The ship master proactively reported the suspected risk, and this is a great example of industry’s vital role in helping safeguard Australia from significant biosecurity pests and diseases.”