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Completed project

National honey bee pest surveillance program (MT12011)

Key research provider: Plant Health Australia
Publication date: Tuesday, February 5, 2019

What was it all about?

The European honey bee plays an important role in pollination of horticultural and agricultural crops, with $4-6 billion per annum in agricultural production estimated to be responsive to honey bee pollination.

Australia is currently free of many bee pests and pest bees that reduce bee health and production overseas. Plant Health Australia identified 14 exotic pests and diseases that would cause significant problems for Australian bees should they make it through border controls. Of these, Varroa mites (particularly Varroa destructor) are considered the most significant. It is estimated that an incursion of Varroa would cost $1.3 billion to manage over a period of 30 years.

Due to the seriousness of the threat to Australian honey bees and many horticulture industries, Hort Innovation invested in a significant border surveillance project to rapidly detect a new exotic pest. Early detection is vital since it increases the likelihood that eradication or containment will be successful.

The National Bee Pest Surveillance Program (NBPSP) 2013–2016, managed by Plant Health Australia, included a range of surveillance methods carried out at 47 high risk ports around Australia’s coast. Methods to detect new incursions of pest bees or bees carrying pests and diseases included sentinel hives, remote surveillance hives, catchboxes, and sweep netting, primarily carried out by state departments, and checks of hives by local hobby beekeepers.

Noted as the strongest honey bee surveillance program in the world, the NBPSP resulted from a successful industry and government partnership involving many organisations and individuals.

The program is backed with educational resources produced by Plant Health Australia including the BeeAware website for beekeepers and growers, a set of bee biosecurity videos, an operations manual, and a beekeeper’s biosecurity manual.




Funding statement:
This project has been funded by Hort Innovation

Copyright © Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited 2017. The Final Research Report (in part or as whole) cannot be reproduced, published, communicated or adapted without the prior written consent of Hort Innovation (except as may be permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth)).