Home' Grower : July 2010 Contents IF the world's most devastating
honeybee pest reaches
Australia's shores, are the
horticulture and pollination
industries ready to deal with it?
This was the scenario played
out during a simulation exercise
conducted at two workshops
involving growers from
industries, honey producers and
pollination providers, along with
representatives from HAL and
the Rural Industries Research
and Development Corporation
and government agencies.
A report is now available,
outlining the results of the
exercise held to test the likely
impact of an incursion of Varroa
mite, which has had a massive
impact on bee populations
around the globe.
Australia is the only major
honey-producing country to be
free of the microscopic pest, but
honey bee experts believe it is
only a matter of when, not if, it
In the past three years, the
Varroa mite has reached New
Zealand and Papua New Guinea,
almost wiping out their wild bee
Plant Health Australia's general
manager programs Rodney
Turner was lead author of the
report Pollination Simulation: A
report on two scenario driven
"This exercise highlighted just
how mobile the industry is, with
bee hives travelling the length and
breadth of the country at various
parts of the year to pollinate
orchards and other crops," he said.
"For the first time, we had
biosecurity regulators from both
plant and animal industries
"This is recognition that
although bees are considered
livestock, any pests which impact
their numbers will also have a
major impact on plant industries.
"We looked at how the various
organisations would work
together in the event of a Varroa
mite incursion and confirmed
just how difficult it would be to
eradicate the pest."
Mr Turner said a key outcome
of the workshop was agreement
on the need to identify which
pesticides may be used to fight
Varroa mite and whether they
were registered for that use.
"The group also recommended
a business continuity plan be
prepared for the honeybee,
pollination and pollination-reliant
plant industries in the case of
the mite becoming established in
Australia," he said.
The simulation exercise was
carried out, in part, because of
the growing recognition in recent
years of the importance of
pollination and acknowledgement
that pests and diseases of
honeybees have a flow-on
impact to horticultural and other
The South Australian Grower -- July 2010 1 7
YORKE Peninsula agronomist Bill Long (pictured)
met a group in the United Kingdom running the
Operation Pollinator program.
"The project is all about how to increase the
floral resource that will lead to increasing the
number of pollinating species such as bees," he
The bumblebee was the major pollinating insect
throughout the world, replacing the varroa-
susceptible European honeybee.
"We don't have the bumblebee on mainland
Australia, and therefore we need to understand
what the pollinating insects are that might
replace the honeybee when the varroa mite
arrives and wipes out the population of the feral
Australia should be taking a proactive approach
to build up numbers of the feral bee population
and the native species, which were more solitary
and less likely to be affected by the mite.
"The big story throughout agriculture systems
around the world is that we are seeing a decline
in pollinating species that exist naturally," Bill
said. "That's because we are replacing that
diversity of floral resources with monocultural
"There are some simple techniques that can be
employed on-farm to try and lift that floral
resource again," he said. "It might be as simple
as not spraying-out your fencelines and planting
some floral resources for the bees.
"Instead of baring things out, it's just a minor
change we could make to our system that could
benefit our production enormously."
Australia must take 'invasion' threat head-on
Varroa mite impact
Need to identify pesti-
Huge threat to industry
Report being prepared
AT A GLANCE
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