Scientists have recently discovered that an Asian honey beehive (Apis cerana) at the Port of Townsville has been infected with varroa mite (Varroa jacobsoni).
The parasites were found on two of the bee workers. Even if this doesn’t seem like such a big deal, this parasite can quickly spread and kill an entire beehive very fast.
Based on the data from the National Consultative Committee on Emergency Plant Pests, an agency that offers support against disease outbreaks and exotic plants pests, varroa mite must be stopped as soon as possible because it might lead to severe consequences not only on the beehives but also on the country’s economy.
Officials set traps to establish whether other Asian honey bee hives were infected with this parasite but they found that the hives were safe. Also, the National Bee Pest Surveillance Program has placed sentinel hives to prevent and detect any possible threat in the future.
Over the past two years, no other pests have been detected in this area. According to Jessica Lye, Scientific Affairs Doctor, Australia is well prepared to tackle any exotic pests, including varroa mite. Officials will double their efforts to make sure that this parasite will not settle in Australia.
Lye stressed that beekeepers need to inspect their hives thoroughly to detect early whether they were invaded by varroa mite or other exotic pests. Also, beekeepers must immediately report to officials from the agriculture department if any of their beehives becomes infested.
This way, authorities will be able to take active measures to prevent the parasite from spreading to other beehives. One of the current initiatives is supported by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (QDAF) in order to survey, quarantine, and monitor a 10-km-area around the Townsville port.
According to Trevor Weatherhead, Australian Honey Bee Industry Council executive director, beekeepers, and local community plays a crucial role in this surveillance program by reporting and containing every feral bee population or beehive in the area surrounding Townsville port.
Weatherhead stressed that people working at seaports must be extra careful to animals and pests that may come along with the imported goods increasing the chance of spreading parasites in the area.
Bees are the top pollinators in the world because they pollinate 70 percent of all crops, which consist of 90 percent of human food source. If bees die, we will starve. That is why it is important to prevent pests such as varroa mite from spreading into beehives.
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