Australia revises Asian Honey Bee eradication plans

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Australia revises Asian Honey Bee eradication plans

The Asian Honey Bee (AHB) poses a serious threat to Australia's agricultural crops, but a Federal Government advisory committee announced earlier this year that eradication would not be 'technically feasible'.

After pressure from independent Senator Nick Xenophon, the Consultative Committee on Emergency Plant Pests has decided to review its possibilities for eradication of the Asian honey bee outbreak, reported the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).

An Asian Honey Bee outbreak in the Solomon Islands had a devastating effect on crops

An Australian Government report released in 2010 estimated 65% of Australian agricultural production depends on pollination from European honey bees, with a value of around US$1.76 billion (AUD$1.7 billion) annually.

But the onset of the Asian Honey Bee could threaten the European bee species, with serious implications for the horticultural industry, as was the case in the Solomon Islands.

Agriculture Department deputy secretary Rona Mellor told the ABC the review would look at the technical aspects of eradication but not the economic impacts of the outbreak.

"It looks at what technology is available, what the scientific approaches are available, whether it be spraying, harvesting, burning, all sorts of different things to eradicate the pest," she was quoted as saying.

"It doesn't look at the long term economical implications for not eradicating. It looks at 'can this pest be eradicated?'."

In 2010 the Australian Government released a responsiveness chart of crops to European honeybee pollination, with almonds, apples, avocadoes, blueberries and rockmelons (canteloupe) classified as 100% responsive.

Mangoes, cherries and macadamia nuts were listed as 90% responsive, while other significant fruits that could be affected by less pollination would be grapefruit (80%), kiwifruit (80%), citrus (0% to 80%), apricots (70%) and watermelons (70%).

Photo: Dennis Anderson, CSIRO


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