Rural

Asian honey bee brings not-so-sweet mite with it

THE discovery of Asian bees at Port Kembla has prompted a warning for people to be on the lookout.
THE discovery of Asian bees at Port Kembla has prompted a warning for people to be on the lookout.

THE Asian honey bee, and the varroa mite which it can often carry, is causing the horticulture industry concern across two states.

Asian honey bee was first detected in Cairns in 2007 and there is a known infestation region from Port Douglas to South Johnstone and west to Atherton and Malanda.

Asian honey bees push European and native bees from their hives, and do not help with pollination.

Up to 50% of what we eat relies on pollination, and any reduction in the numbers of European bees has serious consequences for horticulture production.

The Asian honey bees found in the Cairns area do not carry varroa mite - a pest which causes rapid death of European honey bees.

However, last week varroa mite was discovered on 2000 Asian honey bees living in a ship which had landed in Sydney from Singapore.

Biosecurity Australia is confident that none of the bees escaped. The mite has already taken a hold in New Zealand, Canada and the United States.

In 2011, it was determined that it was not feasible to eradicate Asian honey bees in Australia and the Asian honey bee program is now in a "transition to management" phase, which means undertaking research and developing strategies and tools to help farmers manage the bee and minimise its impacts.

Biosecurity Queensland is looking for nests and swarms outside of the known infested area to help track and minimise the spread of the pest bee.

They are currently surveying the towns of Mossman, Daintree, Dimbulah, Ravenshoe, Tully and surrounding areas to determine the current spread of the pest.

Growcom encourages readers in Far North Queensland to report nests and swarms they see around these areas.

This not only helps to slow the spread of this pest, but assists scientists to learn more about the bee.

Suspected sightings of Asian honey bees can be reported to Biosecurity Queensland on 132 523.

Topics:  biosecurity, varroa mite


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