Mite a threat to bees and pollination

A MITE that has been wiping out the honey bee in Europe and America is expected to arrive in Australia within the next five years, a bee expert has warned.

On the Border for a series of talks, Museum Victoria’s senior curator of entomology and arachnology, Ken Walker, said the Varroa Mite weakened bee colonies, making them susceptible to pesticides and viruses.

“The honey bee provides $5 billion worth of free pollination services,” Dr Walker said.

“So, you can imagine if they were to halve their pollination services like they have overseas, it would cause a massive loss of pollination.”Image

Dr Walker said fruit growers and honey producers, including Beechworth Honey, would potentially see enormous losses in their production.

“It will have a dramatic effect without a doubt,” he said.

This included increased costs due to the need for monitoring and the use of miticides.

“That’s why quarantine is so important in Australia,” he said.

“We are surrounded by water — it’s very hard to keep out, it’s all around us.”

Dr Walker is giving talks to students, teachers and school groups on Australian native bees, which are needed to pollinate native flora.

He believes educating people about bees would help them become aware of their importance to our ecosystem.

“Every part of our ecosystem has to work for the ecosystem to function,” Dr Walker said.

“And the more that people are aware what is around them, they will realise the reasons we have parks, conservation areas, and why we don’t spray everything.”


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