Sweet success but collective fight against Asian honey bees continues

The Palaszczuk Government has added more sting to the search for Asian honey bees (AHB) in Townsville with a new eradication program targeting the feral insects and varroa mite.

In Townsville today, Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said Biosecurity Queensland has successfully eradicated a 2016 AHB incursion in the local government area.

“But there’s a sting in the tail to this, because another incursion was detected at the Townsville port in May this year,” Mr Furner said.

“A new $2.1 million nationally cost-shared program will allow Biosecurity Queensland staff to ramp up efforts to eradicate the pests.

“We will fight them in the port, we will fight them in Townsville, we will defend Queensland’s biosecurity- Asian honey bees have been beaten and they will be beaten again!”

Mr Furner said learnings from the successful 2016 program were crucial to the early detection of the new incursion.

“Biosecurity Queensland staff discovered the new swarm as part of routine surveillance activities,” he said.

“The nest was confirmed to be carrying the potentially devastating varroa mite (Varroa jacobsoni), but because staff found it early, I am happy to report there have been no further detections of AHB or varroa mite in the Port or greater local council area.

“Despite the early detection, we must still be vigilant and the National Varroa Mite Eradication Program will ensure the fight against the varroa mite will continue, with two key staff leading a team of 12 departmental officers until 2021.”

Mr Furner said varroa mites had the potential to significantly damage the Australian agricultural sector and the bee industry, disrupting honey production and pollination services.

“The National Varroa Mite Eradication Program recognises the significant role the bee industry plays in our national economy,” Mr Furner said.

“As part of the program, we will engage with bee keepers and stakeholders including the Townsville Port, transport companies and the Townsville City Council but locals have an important role to play in combating this threat too,” Mr Furner said.

“A Surveillance Program and Prevention and Control Program for the mite (Varroa jacobsoni) are in place within the Townsville area under the Biosecurity Act 2014, allowing officers to enter properties, destroy suspect swarms and compel property owners to assist.”

Townsville residents, especially those living within a 10-kilometre radius of the Port, are urged to report any unusual or new bee activity to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.

/Public Release. View in full here.