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Ongoing project

National Bee Pest Surveillance Program: Transition program (MT21008)

Key research provider: Plant Health Australia

What’s it all about?

This investment is delivering a national coordinated bee-pest surveillance program to help safeguard honey-bee and pollinator-dependent industries in Australia. The National Bee Surveillance Program was established in 2012, supported by the previous National Bee Pest Surveillance Program (MT12011) and Enhanced National Bee Pest Surveillance Program (MT16005).

The program will conduct surveillance for 13 pests that impact honey bees (mites and beetles), and pest bees that could either carry hitchhiking parasites or could themselves cause detrimental impacts to honeybees. The program activities include upgrading sentinel hive arrays, strengthening relationships with surveillance operators and more. The surveillance is designed to enable the early detection of high-priority pest incursions that can impact on honey bees, providing the best opportunity for successful pest eradication.

Several levy industries are contributors to the work, and the program is part of the Hort Frontiers Pollination Fund. Hort Frontiers is Hort Innovation’s strategic partnership initiative, with more information available at

Between January 2023 and May 2023, more than 2,000 surveillance activities were performed across 18 port locations as part of the National Bee Pest Surveillance Program (NBPSP). These locations included seven high risk (core) ports and 11 additional in-kind locations. Nine exotic pests, and four regionalised but significant pests, were surveyed using a range of field-based activities and laboratory diagnostic techniques. No exotic pests were detected.  

The project team also:

  • Developed various communication material to support surveillance and increase awareness of the NBPSP. 
  • Held a meeting of the National Bee Biosecurity Steering Committee in April 2023 with representatives from industry, governments and research and development organisations. 
  • Continued to progress consultation with stakeholders to identify a sustainable funding model for continued operation of the NBPSP post 31 December 2024.

Between June 2022 to December 2022, surveillance has been undertaken at six high risk and 10 medium risk ports. One exotic pest (Varroa destructor) has been detected in NSW at the Port of Newcastle, and subsequently an emergency response was initiated. Due to this incursion, all apiary officers have been conducting additional surveillance to assist proof of freedom in their jurisdiction, as well as conducting regular surveillance as part of this project. All other ports in the program have not had any exotic pest detections during this reporting period.

In the first six months of the new program, surveillance has been undertaken at all eight high-risk and nine medium-risk ports and no exotic pests have been detected. 
The project team has also:
  • Developed three media articles to support awareness of the importance of honey bees and the NBPSP with the honey bee and plant industries, researchers and community.

  • Signed agreements with all state government agencies and the Northern Territory government to undertake surveillance activities.

  • Held a Project Steering Committee meeting with representatives from industry and government.


This project is part of the Hort Frontiers Pollination Fund and involves levy investment from the almond, apple and pear, avocado, cherry, lychee, macadamia, mango, melon, onion, passionfruit, raspberry and blackberry, strawberry, summerfruit and vegetable industries.