A federal parliamentary committee has made six recommendations to improve the biosecurity of Australian honey bees and improve early threat detection and response strategies.
The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Agriculture and Water Resources made the recommendations to the Federal Government last week, aimed at protecting the $4billion industry which faces increasing threats from invasive pests and diseases, including the Varroa destructor mite.
Committee chair Rick Wilson MP said early detection of biosecurity risks was essential.
‘‘Australia is currently the only country free of the (mite),’’ Mr Wilson said.
‘‘It is essential that detection and response capabilities be increased to prevent a potentially devastating economic impact.’’
In a submission to the committee, CSIRO biosecurity risk evaluation and preparedness program research director Paul De Barro said smuggling was a key obstacle in the fight against the mite.
‘‘We get smuggling of queen bees through the mail, and those bees may well have Varroa on them,’’ Dr De Barro said.
‘‘(It is) a major issue, because it circumvents all our surveillance.
‘‘The surveillance assumes a port of entry. But, of course, if you are getting bees smuggled in they are going to go into towns and cities, and will probably be well established before you actually have a chance of detecting them.’’
The committee’s six recommendations included investigating the use of technology to enable greater public involvement in detection programs, analysing pest bee risk ratings at Australian ports including airports and commencing an analysis of bee smuggling into Australia.