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How a bee parasite could sting annual almond pollination plans

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It will probably be an anxious few weeks for beekeepers and the billion-dollar Australian almond trade after a varroa mite outbreak in New South Wales put Australia’s annual almond pollination program in danger. 

Virtually 300,000 bee hives are wanted for almond pollination within the subsequent 4 weeks, making it the biggest motion of livestock in Australia.

However on Sunday, an emergency order was put in place stopping the motion of bees in New South Wales as a result of discovery of varroa mite on the Port of Newcastle. 

The Varroa destructor mite stops bees from with the ability to fly, accumulate feed and emerge from their cell to be born.

Almond Board of Australia chief government Tim Jackson mentioned a pollination working group was on stand-by in case the scenario escalated.

“We’re hoping that this measure of a standstill for the following 5 to seven days will enable New South Wales authorities to get on prime of and comprise the varroa mite infestation. 

“Then there will be no want for the working group as these will have the ability to be transported to the orchard via the three states.” 

A varroa mite on a honey bee
NSW has launched emergency measures to cease the unfold of the varroa mire.(Provided: Alex Wild, College of Texas at Austin)

Pollination on maintain 

The ban on bee actions in NSW has put Rex Carruthers’ plans on maintain.

The Sunshine Coast apiarist earns a residing from providing professional pollination services to almond orchards in Victoria, and had deliberate to start stage considered one of a 2,000 kilometre journey subsequent week, stopping at a canola crop in Nyngan.

“We have to remove any colonies. Wherever the varroa mite can reside, have to be eliminated,” he mentioned.

“There was some actually good strong analysis finished on what we name distant poisoning.

“There are massive populations of feral colonies [living in tree hollows] and, in my private opinion, we would must put in place distant poisoning.”

Mr Carruthers mentioned varroa mites transfer by hopping on and off bees as they land on flowers.

A man wearing a high vis shirt and jacket stands in an almond orchard which is in blossom
Trevor Monson is assured authorities can preserve the outbreak in NSW underneath management.(ABC Mildura-Swan Hill: Jennifer Douglas)

Beekeepers on alert

Bee dealer and pollination specialist Trevor Monson mentioned the controls being put in place in NSW stopping all bee motion had been “an absolute should”.

However he hoped it will not be a long-term measure as a result of there have been so much of crops on account of be pollinated within the subsequent few months.

“Presently blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, avocados, and really quickly macadamias, all have to have bees to pollinate them and the almond trade [pollination] is 4 weeks away.”

Mr Monson was initially nervous in regards to the incursion however was pleased with the best way authorities and trade had dealt with the outbreak.

However he mentioned it was yet one more problem for beekeepers to cope with.

A beekeeper wades through water to inspect the damage to the bee hives
A whole bunch of bee hives had been destroyed after a storm dumped greater than 100mm of rain between Mungo and Ivanhoe, in NSW earlier within the 12 months.(Provided)

“We thought we might seen all of it with floods and fires and COVID … however Mom Nature has one other trial [for the industry],” Mr Monson mentioned.  

“There will probably be beekeepers that select to not go to almond pollination this 12 months due to their nervousness … and a few will go away the trade.

“But when beekeepers comply with the principles … there’s a good risk the plans now we have in place will work.”

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