The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development and Western Australian beekeepers will take part in a one-day exercise tomorrow (3 Aug) to build preparedness against varroa mite (Varroa destructor), a serious pest of European honeybees.
Exercise Bee Prepared is a national initiative focused on improving readiness to respond to a detection of varroa mite, which infests honeybees in every major beekeeping area of the world except Australia.
WA Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development acting chief plant biosecurity officer Sonya Broughton said beekeeping had grown in popularity in Western Australia, with about 2,600 beekeepers maintaining more than 40,000 hives.
As well as producing honey, honeybees play an important role in the pollination of many food crops.
“Scenario planning like this helps test our strategies to respond to a detection of an exotic pest or disease which could decimate our honeybees,” Dr Broughton said.
“For example, varroa mite is a parasitic mite that can lead to colony decline and spread viruses.
“Department staff will be working alongside commercial and hobby beekeepers and in conjunction with Plant Health Australia as part of this exercise in Perth, with outcomes provided as part of a national review of activities.”
The exercise is being coordinated by Plant Health Australia, led by training and biosecurity preparedness program manager Stephen Dibley, following exercises in each state and territory, with just Northern Territory left to be completed.
“The enthusiasm, commitment and collaboration shown by participants in all activities completed so far has been positive,” Dr Dibley said.
“Response strategies have also been developed through a collaborative effort between beekeepers and government staff.”
Dr Broughton reminded the community that early detection of exotic pests and diseases was vital.
“While there is surveillance in place, we remind all beekeepers and the WA community that they play a vital role in being vigilant for any unusual pests or diseases,” Dr Broughton said.
Any unusual sightings should be reported to the department using the MyPestGuideTM Reporter app or contact the department’s Pest and Disease Information Service on +61 (08) 9368 3080 or email@example.com.
Media contacts: Jodie Thomson/Lisa Bertram, media liaison +61 (08) 9368 3937