Bee-ing smart with apiary audits

Agriculture Victoria staff were recently part of the largest annual movement of livestock in Victoria with more than 4.2 billion honey bees transported to the state’s north west to pollinate almond blossoms.

Agriculture Victoria’s Biosecurity Officers have conducted a number of targeted biosecurity checks of bee hives from Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.

Agriculture Victoria’s Senior Apiary Officer, Joe Riordan, said there was a risk of pests and diseases spreading during the almond pollination due to the high hive density.

“Surveillance focused on endemic bee diseases, such as American foulbrood, appropriate registration and branding of hives and checking of interstate movement certificates,” Mr Riordan said.

“More than 1000 hives were audited with the aid of infrared technology attached to smart phones and officers destroyed more than 100 hives that were found to have clinical signs of American fouldbrood.

“Beekeepers must adopt the Australian Honey Bee Industry Biosecurity Code of Practice and be aware of the signs of American foulbrood, as well as exotic pests such as Varroa mite,” he said.

“Australia remains Varroa mite free and this status is attributed to strong biosecurity programs that have kept this economically devastating threat from our shores.

“Protecting Victoria’s honey bee population from exotic pests is of the utmost importance to ensure the future of pollination services needed for food production.”

Mr Riordan said Victoria’s honey industry is worth $90 million a year and contributes to the pollination of up to $6 billion worth of crops across the agriculture sector.

“Honey bee pollination from managed hives is essential for the production of many horticultural and seed crops, such as canola, almonds, kiwi fruit, cherries, pome fruit and seed clover, and is known to significantly increase both the yield and quality of crops”.

Almonds represent 38 per cent of Victoria’s horticulture exports and the annual migration of bees to north west Victoria ensures that these crops continue to be productive.

Victoria’s food and fibre industry exports $11.9 billion a year, with demand for our produce underpinned by a world-class reputation for providing premium quality, safe and clean products.

Source: Agriculture Victoria