On The Land

3 July, 2024

Battle to protect bees intensifies

THE battle against the varroa mite, which poses a significant threat to honeybees, is intensifying, with six Varroa Development Officers (VDOs) to be employed in Queensland as well as an engagement coordinator, and new surveillance hives established for early pest detection.

Battle to protect bees intensifies - feature photo

While the Varroa destructor has not yet been detected in Queensland, it is currently in New South Wales and the State is determined to be prepared for the pest.

The varroa mite is an insidious pest that poses a significant biosecurity threat to the common European honeybees whose pollination services add an estimated $14.2 billion to the Australian agricultural and horticultural industries each year.

Following the endorsement of the National Varroa Mite Response Plan earlier this year, Queensland along with other states and territories, has shifted from attempting to eradicate varroa mite to managing it.

The newly advertised VDO positions will educate and support beekeepers on integrated pest management techniques and offer practical support during the transition. Working closely with individual beekeepers and beekeeping clubs, the VDOs will provide hands-on assistance to build skills, understanding and resilience.

The approach aims to mitigate the impact of Varroa destructor on Queensland’s beekeeping and pollination-reliant industries when it inevitably arrives.

Additionally, 19 workshops will be conducted for both commercial and recreational beekeepers. The workshops will focus on enhancing skills in detecting, monitoring, reporting and managing varroa mite for the long term.

Customised resources for Queensland’s beekeeping industry will also be made available online free of charge.

Biosecurity Queensland is also enhancing surveillance along the Queensland-New South Wales border, focusing on the Gold Coast region and high-risk areas of Stanthorpe and Warwick, where pollination events are anticipated in early spring.

To provide early warning for Varro destructor in Queensland, 18 sentinel hives have been established in those locations.


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