Varroa resources launched

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Beekeeper

In a critical juncture for the honey bee industry, AgriFutures Australia in partnership with the industry’s peak national representative body, the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council (AHBIC) is set to launch a suite of Varroa Mite (Varroa Destructor) focused resources.

The suite of resources follows the completion of the Resilient Beekeeping in the Face of Varroa project, an AgriFutures Australia research initiative.

The project has been a key focus for the AgriFutures Honey Bee & Pollination Program following the incursion of Varroa Destructor in June 2022. In September 2023, the eradication of Varroa was deemed no longer technically feasible, leading to a transition to management phase aiming to slow the spread and limit the impacts of Varroa on Australia’s beekeeping industry.

Its introduction jeopardised the critical role played by 29,800 skilled commercial and recreational beekeepers that collectively managing 530,000 hives. These hives and its residents are vital for the pollination of 35 agricultural crops and many of our favourite foods, including a range of nuts, berries and stone fruits.

The AgriFutures Honey Bee & Pollination Program invests in research that ensures a productive, sustainable and profitable beekeeping industry and secures the pollination of Australia’s horticultural and agricultural crops. The Resilient Beekeeping in the Face of Varroa project aims to support the industry through what is arguably the biggest challenge it has faced.

“Despite being relatively prepared for the [Varroa Mite] incursion, there’s still a lot of anxiety within the industry driven by a lack of knowledge,” explained CEO of the AHBIC, Danny Le Feuvre.

“Now that the National Management Group, the decision-making body for the national varroa mite emergency response, has decided that it’s not feasible to eradicate, our primary focus in the industry is on getting information out to the beekeepers on how they can best manage this threat,” he said.

To ensure the most accurate, relevant and comprehensive information was dispersed, the Resilient Beekeeping in the Face of Varroa project undertook a literature review, a comprehensive survey and interviews with 21 international beekeeping industry experts.

“We’ve always known that education is a critical component of any transition to management process, this resilience project has reaffirmed the view that education is a key component and the number one method of slowing the spread,” said Danny.

The research included a final report and six fact sheets that focus on the following key areas of concern: slowing the spread, bee health, impact on pollination, integrated pest management, bee breeding and varroa chemical treatments.

The fact sheets will be complimented by a series of interviews and podcasts to ensure accessibility for beekeepers across various platforms. The suite of resources will feature interviews with global experts and concentrate on the lessons Australia can draw from Varroa management practices overseas as well as the potential implementation of these strategies in the Australian context.

General Manager of Levied and Emerging Industries at AgriFutures, John Smith, says that ensuring Australian beekeepers are provided with educational resources to thrive despite Varroa is vital to the sustainability of the industry.

“This will be one of the first Varroa communication activities that looks at what we can learn from other countries with Varroa and how beekeepers can reduce Varroa and remain productive and profitable,” said John.

“The resources are extremely practical and, I believe, will prove to be an excellent resource for Australian beekeepers who are hungry for information that will help them manage this threat effectively.”

The collection of resources will be hosted on the AHBIC website, and will contribute towards minimising the impacts of Varroa, not only to honey bee businesses immediately but also to the pollination dependant industries that rely on the prosperity of the honey bee industry to support Australia’s food security.

To learn more about the AgriFutures Honey Bee & Pollination Program, visit: Honey Bee & Pollination | AgriFutures Australia. For any other information about varroa people are encouraged to visit AHBIC.

 

-ENDS-

Media enquiries:

Ingrid Lee-Scott

Dentsu Creative Public Relations

0410 047 767

 

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