Exercise Bee Prepared – protecting Australia’s bee industries

Released 26/04/2018

Bees play a key role in food production – pollinating about a third of the world's crops. Globally, bee populations are in decline because of pests and disease, particularly Varroa mite, but Australia is one of the few places that remains free from this deadly pest.

As part of a program being held across Australia, a biosecurity training exercise will be held today in Canberra to help ensure our region is well prepared should a pest outbreak take place.

“Australia is one of the top 10 honey producing countries in the world, with a large amount of honey produced in Australia exported to countries overseas in both bulk and retail shipments. Other honey bee products include beeswax production, queen bees and packaged bee sales, pollen, and paid pollination services. The industry has an overall estimated value of $90 million a year,” said Stephen Hughes, ACT Biosecurity Senior Manager.

“This valuable industry and many of our food crops which rely on honey bees for pollination would be put at risk if Varroa mite were ever to become established in Australia.

“Today’s exercise will be a vital part of maintaining and improving our preparedness, and ability to respond to an emergency pest or disease outbreak. It’s important to note it is an exercise only and is not in response to a real outbreak. There is no reason for the community to be alarmed in any way.”

Mr Hughes said Australia’s freedom from Varroa mite underpins access to many overseas markets for our honey bee products and packaged live bee exports. It also benefits the production of honey for local consumption and the provision of pollination services to horticultural industries.

“Comprehensive arrangements are in place to respond to an outbreak of Varroa mite; however continued prevention and preparedness remains a national priority,” Mr Hughes said.

“Biosecurity is everyone’s responsibility. We all have a role in preventing an outbreak of Varroa mite. Even if you don’t own bee hives or work with bees, you need to consider the biosecurity requirements for online purchases and goods bought during overseas travel.”

People who own bees should always use good biosecurity practices. More information is available at the Code of Practice for Beekeeping in Residential Areas in the ACT and the Australian Honey Bee Industry Code of Practice.

If you notice signs of the Varroa mite, report it immediately to the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.

Exercise Bee Prepared will take place at the Ron Reynolds Training Centre, Strangways Street in Curtin on Thursday 26 April 2018 from 9 am to 4 pm. Over 20 local biosecurity staff, in partnership with Plant Health Australia and beekeeping associations, will be involved.

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Section: ACT Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate | Media Releases

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