The value of honeybees to the Australian economy is undisputed. This has been emphasised by the ongoing media coverage of the potential threats to honeybees (Apis mellifera) world wide and the Australian Federal Governments’ enquiry into the Australian honeybee industry. One of the key threats to honeybees in Australia is the exotic parasite Varroa destructor (Varroa mite). On the world stage, this pest is considered as one of the most serious challenges facing the keeping of honeybees. Australia is the only major beekeeping country not to have experienced the impact of an incursion of this devastating parasite.
Unfortunately, our closest neighbour, New Zealand, has had to deal with Varroa since 2000. Fortunately for Australia, one of the best methods of ensuring the Australian beekeeping industry is across the issues associated with the Varroa mite, is to learn first hand from their experience. A small group of Australians travelled to New Zealand to gather information on Varroa and other topics of importance to beekeepers in Australia.
The group was highly successful in identifying a number of key points that should be carefully considered by the Australian beekeeping industry, in order to prepare itself for the (possible) advent of Varroa. The findings of the study will make the ‘readiness’ for the incursion of the Varroa mite into Australia more focussed and provide a considerable body of information on a range of other topics including American Foulbrood, pollination and the marketing of honey.