Beekeeping partnership recognised with national award

Agriculture Victoria’s Apiary Program was honoured with the 2019 Australian Biosecurity Award (Government Category) at the Australian Biosecurity Awards ceremony in Canberra last night.

The award recognises the long-term partnership between Agriculture Victoria and the beekeeping industry, which was put into practice in June 2018 when an exotic bee parasite, Varroa mite, was detected at the Port of Melbourne.

A joint State Quarantine Response Team was activated at the time to support Agriculture Victoria’s response to the detection. This included extensive beehive surveillance by the 150 private beekeepers across Victoria who have been trained, and are nationally accredited, to be deployed as field team members in the event of an incursion or detection of exotic bee parasites or diseases.

Agriculture Victoria’s Director Biosecurity Operations, Michael Rosier, and Senior Apiary Officer, Joe Riordan, were joined at the award ceremony by Robert McDonald, industry representative and one of the original State Quarantine Response Team members.

Mr Rosier said the award recognised the true partnership between industry and government on this project.

“Agriculture Victoria shares the same goal as Victoria’s beekeeping industry – to keep our bees and associated pollination services healthy, and to ensure that we are prepared for any exotic bee pest or disease incursion. To do that effectively we have to work together,” Mr Rosier said.

The technical expertise of Victorian beekeepers in the field is a crucial element in Victoria’s capacity and ability to effectively respond to apiary emergencies.

“The involvement of the State Quarantine Response Team in surveillance was a vital component of Victoria’s successful response to the detection of Varroa mite, validating many years of training and joint exercises on a number of detection and response scenarios between government and industry.”

Mr McDonald has been part of the State Quarantine Response Team since its introduction and first training session in 2002.

“Having been on this journey with Agriculture Victoria since the beginning, I am proud to see what we can do when we work together to safeguard the future of our beekeeping industry, as well as all agricultural industries reliant on pollination services,” Mr McDonald said.

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