Tuesday 1 December 2009

Bee movie warns of varroa mite threat to Cairns

Tonight you can snuggle up in the comfort of your lounge sofa and learn about Queensland’s Asian honey bee eradication operation in Cairns.

The eradication program is a crucial segment of the new documentary, Honeybee Blues, on SBS on tonight at 7.30pm.

The doco looks at the threats to the bee industry worldwide, particularly the varroa mites, which are carried by Asian honey bees. Australia is one of the last countries in the world where mites have not been found.

Filmmaker Stefan Moore and his crew came to Cairns in November last year to film Biosecurity Queensland’s surveillance manager Wim De Jong and his team at work in the field. Honeybee Blues asserts that Australia is the last bastion in the world of a clean chemical-free bee industry, which highlights the international significance of the Cairns operations.

However experts say it is only a matter of time before the Varroa mites enter Australia, which are are a major threat to the Australian bee industry.

Varroa mites could enter Australia through an incursion of Asian honey bees (Apis cerana), which have adapted to survive with the mite.

This is why Biosecurity Queensland mounted an eradication response when Asian honey bees were detected in Cairns more than two years ago.

Asian honey bee eradication coordinator Charlotte Greer said tests carried out on all detected Asian honey bee nests and swarms indicated mites were not associated with the present incursion.

“Honeybee Blues shows how the varroa mites have decimated commercial operations in the United States and Papua New Guinea.

CSIRO’s Canberra-based principal research scientist Denis Anderson, who was in Cairns recently for the Queensland Beekeepers’ Association conference, is interviewed in the documentary as well.
To bee or not to bee, that is the real question.

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