27 September 2023

DAWE targets program to bug invaders

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The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment has produced enhancements to the National Bee Pest Surveillance Program, helping to prevent incursions of exotic and other pest bees.

Head of Biosecurity at the Department, Lyn O’Connell said bee pollination supported crop industries and food security, so there was a need to have strong biosecurity measures in place to protect the health of Australia’s bees.

“These enhancements will improve our surveillance, diagnostics, preparedness and response arrangements for key bee pests and viruses,” Ms O’Connell said.

“A total of 40 upgraded catch-boxes for pest bees are being deployed in remote and restricted high-risk areas to allow us to capture and inspect bee swarms and expand our surveillance capacity.”

She said the Department was also investigating better options for Asian honey bee-specific catch-boxes, to improve targeted surveillance for this significant pest bee.

“Targeted floral sweep netting will be implemented at high-risk ports for Asian honey bees (pictured) and other pest bees. This is another valuable tool to catch exotic bees and detect potential incursions,” Ms O’Connell said.

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

She said no exotic viruses were found, demonstrating the health of Australia’s bees, but ongoing surveillance would be undertaken to support evidence-based proof of the absence of the viruses.

Ms O’Connell said Australia’s response to potential incursions would also be boosted through a new electronic portal that would allow surveillance data to be captured and shared in real time.

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