​Media Release

Horticulture industry abuzz for better bee pest surveillance

16 August 2017

  • $587,000 new funding to enhance the National Bee Pest Surveillance Program
  • Funded through the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper
  • Provides additional early warning for exotic bee pests and pest bees
  • Fight against varroa mite in Townsville continues with no new detections for more than 12 months

​The Coalition Government is strengthening the surveillance of Australia's bee population for exotic pests, protecting an industry worth $2.5 billion to horticulture alone.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, said the Coalition was investing more than $587,000 for Plant Health Australia to enhance the successful National Bee Pest Surveillance Program.

"The National Bee Pest Surveillance Program delivers a range of surveillance activities at likely entry points of bee pests and pest bees, like Asian honey bees, throughout Australia," Minister Joyce said.

"The program's primary objective is to be an early warning system for new threats before they establish, to limit the scale and cost of eradication, and to support Australia's pest free status which is vital for trade.

"This includes virus diagnostics and surveillance around a range of bee viruses that are exotic to Australia, increased Asian honey bee surveillance, deploying improved remote catch-boxes in remote locations or areas of high risk and the trial of Asian hornet traps at key ports.

"Asian honey bees are a threat as they are a natural host for varroa mite, which was found in Townsville in June 2016.

"But we are winning this fight, with no new detections since July 2016 following significant investment by the Commonwealth and states and territories as well a number of industries which are reliant on pollination to survive.

"Australia's biosecurity system works on a number of fronts, off-shore, at the border and on-shore, to keep Australia free from many pests and diseases.

"It is important we are aware of biosecurity risks as early as possible, to help identify and manage pest or disease incursions.

"This program supports Australia's $101 million honey bee industry and all the industries dependent on pollination for crop production.

"More than 65 per cent of all the crops produced in Australia in the horticulture sector alone are dependent on pollination, so it is vital we protect our native bee colonies."

More information on the program is available at: http://www.planthealthaustralia.com.au/national-programs/national-bee-pest-surveillance-program/

Fast facts

  • The gross value of production from the honey bee industry was estimated at $101 million in 2014–15
  • Research has found that native pollinators alone are estimated to contribute $2.5 billion in crop pollination in Australia.
  • This investment forms part of the Coalition Government's response to the report of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Agriculture Water Resources (Safe Keeping: Inquiry into the biosecurity of Australian honey bees)
  • The Coalition Government is funding enhancements to the program through the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, following a review of the program by Australian and international experts, to ensure it builds on its successes and continues to meet the programs core work.