Asian honey bee surveillance underway
On 26 June 2015 an unusual type of bee, the Asian honey bee, was located on a new camper trailer that had been transported from Cairns to be part of a display at the camping show. Asian honey bees remain a significant potential threat to the Australian and NT honey and pollination industries because they could introduce and carry the devastating varroa mite, which feeds on bees.
All the bees and honeycomb were removed from the camper and all live bees were killed for inspection and testing, which showed the bees were free of varroa mite.
But the queen was absent, which is a concern because it means she could be establishing a new hive in an unknown location.
How did the Department manage the detection?
The Department conducted surveillance to monitor possible colony locations for the and set bee traps and sweep netting flowering plants to identify if any Asian honey bees are presenting and feeding.
This occurred around East Arm covering a 500 metre radius, Darwin Showgrounds and at all of the freight sites where the transport stopped and unloaded freight, once it entered the Territory.
Nearby businesses have been canvassed and provided information and asked to report bee sightings.
To date, Department staff has not detected any Asian honey bee activity in the East Arm, where the camper was on the ground the longest, or in a number of sites in Darwin. This surveillance will then continue until 30 June 2016.
To ensure we have taken the necessary surveillance measures and identify if the queen absconded earlier, we are now going to work back along the transport route with additional surveillance.
We know the camper trailer travelled on the back of a truck from Cairns to Darwin [to East Arm and then to the camping show] via Katherine, Tennant Creek and Elliot.
Biosecurity to visit Katherine, Tennant Creek and Elliot
Biosecurity staff will visit these towns to conduct intensive surveillance at the freight sites and surrounding areas to determine if there are any Asian honey bees present. The activity includes inspection of residences and businesses for nests and sweep netting, bee traps and floral inspections.
In the week commencing the 31 August 2015 biosecurity staff will visit Katherine, followed by Tennant Creek and Elliot in the week of 14 September 2015. This activity will occur intensively in each town for one week, followed by monthly return visits until 30 June 2016.
As part of these visits, the Department will be conducting local awareness campaigns in Katherine and Tennant Creek about the bees. A brochure and poster is available to download.
Report Asian honey bees
We’re asking Territorians in these towns to do their bit and please be on the lookout for any suspect bees and report them to NT Quarantine by calling the exotic plant pest hotline on 1800 084 881.
Biosecurity is everyone’s responsibility, and we need your help to protect the Territory’s honey industry from exotic bee pests and diseases
Further DNA testing will be carried out to establish the connection between the bees located in Darwin and those present in Cairns.
For more information download the Asian honey bee brochure and poster.