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Completed project

Development and implementation of protocols to enable importation of improved honey bee genetics to Australia (MT18019)

Key research provider: CSIRO
Publication date: Wednesday, December 15, 2021

What’s it all about?

This investment, which ran from 2019 to 2021, laid the groundwork for the importation of desirable honey bee germplasm into Australia, with a focus on sourcing genetic material from bees with tolerance to Varroa mite and its associated viruses.

Import of and access to this material for breeding purposes will allow both the honey bee and horticulture industries to prepare for the threat of Varroa, by pre-emptively establishing Varroa-tolerant genetics in Australia’s honey bee population.

The project team conducted the first importation of bee semen into Australia, the first importation of live queen bees through the new Post-Entry Quarantine facility in Mickleham in Victoria, and the first introduction of Varroa resistant genetics into Australia.

Through these activities, the project team developed a logistical framework to guide future honey bee importations and demonstrated that this can be done safely without introducing exotic bee viruses. The imported stock continues to be evaluated for performance and paves the way for establishing Varroa resistance in Australia’s honey bee population.

These efforts have improved pollination security for the horticulture sector by removing significant barriers for Australia accessing Varroa resistant and other improved honey bee stock from overseas breeding programs. Whether through pre-emptive introductions of resistant genetics or rapid importation in response to a Varroa incursion, the Australian honey bee industry and its vital pollination services are better prepared to reduce the impact of these serious biosecurity threats.

Related levy funds

This multi-industry project was a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Almond, Avocado and Melon Funds.