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TAS Country : June 21st 2012
News Friday, June 22, 2012 Tasmanian Country 11 PREPARATIONS: Nicola Charles from Charles Blue Hills Honey at Mawbanna. Picture: CHRIS KIDD ' It will happen; the mite will come to Australia, and we have to be ready for it and prepare ourselves to limit the damage' ---NICOLA CHARLES be felt right across the agricultural and horticultural industries that relied on pollination services. Tasmania's fruit and vegetable in- dustry is especially at risk. ''In the unfortunate event a new pest or disease does enter the state, the department has trained staff to serve in a biosecurity emergency re- sponse team that would respond to such a biosecurity emergency,'' Dr Davies said. ''The training in emergency disease issues that some beekeepers have undertaken is valuable.'' The Depart- ment of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries -- Biosecurity also monitors for bees and other unwanted insect pests on cargo ships entering Aust- ralian ports. The mites attack developing bee larvae or adult bees and ultimately destroy the colony or hive. Lindsay Bourke, chairman of the peak body for beekeepers, the Aust- ralian Honey Bee Industry Council, said the mites spread quickly. ''It will ruin our industry,'' said Mr Bourke, of Launceston. ''Australia is the only country in the world that doesn't have the mite.'' However, the threat is knocking on our borders and can spread naturally or through transport channels. ''Backyard fruit trees won't yield fruit because the bees who do the pollinating will have been affected,'' Mr Bourke said. The honey industry is worth $90 mil- lion to the Australian economy. Tas- mania's honey crop, despite only hav- ing 2 per cent of the nation's beekeepers, is worth $4 million. ''However, it is the value of the pollination that bees do that will cost and have widespread consequences,'' Mr Bourke said. He said value of plant pollination by bees was $4 billion nationally. The varroa mite would decimate Australia's feral bee population and cause a rapid increase in demand for pollination services. Mr Bourke said the major costs would hit industries with crops that relied on honeybees for pollination, including almonds, avocados, stone fruits, melons and pumpkins and veg- etables. Once infected, a hive must be treated. Mr Bourke said there were 18,000 bee hives in Tasmania and it would cost $32 to treat every hive. One, or sometimes more, female mite enters a brood cell in the bee hive laying about five or six eggs. Newly hatched (nymph) mites feed on the growing bee larva. The Tasmanian Biosecurity and Plant Health Branch this week met representatives from quarantine and animal health welfare divisions over the looming threat. Varroa mites can remain undetected for up to two years, by when it is too late to prevent it spreading to other hives. Biosecurity Victoria apiary inspec- tor Daniel Martin said there was light at the end of the tunnel. ''Overseas beekeepers are develop- ing honeybee breeding programs that focus on developing bees with hygienic behavioural characteristics which aim to suppress mite populations within colonies,'' Mr Martin said. ''We'll need to get beekeepers to select bees that have those hygienic traits.'' He said Australia had taken the initiative to set up programs overseas to develop ways to combat the mites. Varroa mites were discovered in New Zealand in 2000 and have already had a major economic impact, with significant control costs and losses of bees, hives, honey production, crop yields and export revenue. Beekeepers conference call, P14 Comparison Rate* on popular Corolla, Yaris, Camry and RAV4 models toyota.com.au/specialoffers. Toyota reserves the right to extend any offer. Excludes demos. While stocks last. 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June 14th 2012
June 28th 2012