As Australia gives up on eradicating the bee-killing varroa mite after an out break in New South Wales, a WA Indigenous Beekeeping company is concerned the invasive species will reach the Kimberly.
Around 30,000 beehives have been destroyed to quell the outbreak after the parasite was discovered in Newcastle 15 months ago.
Varroa mites weaken European honey bees and, reduces their lifespans and helps spread deadly viruses.
David and Dianne Appleby are the founders of Walaja Broome Bush Honey, an Indigenous owned honey company found on Yawuru country.
Speaking to NIRS News, Mr Appleby says he hopes WA’s biosecurity laws and dry climate will protect bee keepers in the state.
“I think any bee keeper living in Australia would be concerned.
However having said that I think Western Australia’s strict biosecurity laws will protect us a little bit.
For example, even if the mite does get in to Freemantle Port, we are still two and a half thousand kilometers away in the Kimberly, and there is a lot of dessert that feral bees can’t survive in.”
Interestingly enough, Australia’s native bee population seems to be immune from the parasitic onslaught.
Mr Appleby says the mite mainly targets the European honey bee.
‘My understanding of native bees is that it’s not an issue.
The European honey bee is a concern, and of course those are the bees that we use up here.
I’ve done a bit of research on the varroa mite and I believe the Asian honeybee has been living with varroa mite quite successfully.
They have a hygienic characteristic that allows the Asian bee to kill the mite and that they have been living without any influence of the varroa mite, but not the European honey bee that we use.”
The National Management Group which has been overlooking the outbreak in NSW has now transitioned into trying to suppress and survey current out breaks across the state.
Image Credit: Charles J Sharp Via Wikimedia Commons