Enhancing Australia’s bee pest surveillance

10 June 2020

Enhancements to the National Bee Pest Surveillance Program have delivered a range of valuable outcomes to support the health of Australia’s bees.

Head of biosecurity, at the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, Lyn O’Connell, said the enhancements will help prevent incursions of exotic bee pests and pest bees.

“Bee pollination supports our crop industries and food security, so we need to have strong biosecurity measures in place to protect the health of our bees,” Ms O’Connell said.

“These enhancements will improve our surveillance, diagnostics, preparedness and response arrangements for key bee pests and viruses.

“40 upgraded catchboxes are being deployed in remote and restricted high-risk areas for pest bees, to allow us to capture and inspect bee swarms and expand our surveillance capacity.

“We are also investigating better options for Asian honey bee specific catchboxes, to improve our targeted surveillance for this significant pest bee.

“Targeted floral sweep netting will be implemented at high-risk ports for Asian honey bees and other pest bees. This is another valuable tool to catch exotic bees and detect potential incursions.

“Extensive surveillance has been undertaken for bee viruses of significance for Australia, including Acute Bee Paralysis Virus, Deformed Wing Virus, Slow Paralysis Virus.

“No exotic viruses were found, demonstrating the health of Australia’s bees. Ongoing surveillance will be undertaken to support evidence-based proof of absence for these viruses.

“We are building national diagnostic skills across laboratories to support our preparedness and response activities for these key bee viruses.

“Our response to potential incursions will also be boosted through a new electronic portal that will allow surveillance data to be captured and shared in real-time.

“Biosecurity plays a vital role in supporting the health of Australia’s bees and these enhancements will help ensure the measures we have in place protect our bees now and into the future.”

The National Bee Pest Surveillance Program is jointly funded by the department, Australian Honeybee Industry Council, Hort Innovation and Grain Producers Australia.

For more information on the program, visit https://www.planthealthaustralia.com.au/national-programs/national-bee-pest-surveillance-program/