Coulton’s Catch-up 11th March - Asian bee eradication
They say you never truly appreciate something until it’s gone and this may well be the case for the humble European honeybee. The European honeybee has been generously providing us with honey and related products in Australia since the early 1800s. However, this is at risk due to the Government ending a vital funding program aimed at the eradication of the pest Asian bee from March 31st this year.
The announcement that funding for the Asian Honey Bee National Management Group (NMG) will be ceased comes as a huge blow to the Honey Bee Industry, an industry which contributes up to $80 million to the Australian economy, and almost $4 billion of food production through pollination services to crops such as apples, almonds and canola.
The Asian bee is a competing force for the European honeybee. They were first discovered on Australian shores in 2007 in North Queensland and the Federal Government moved to implement the NMG, the sole purpose of which was to eradicate the problem Asian bee population. The NGM has since destroyed 350 swarms of the Asian bee and has managed to contain the bee in an area less than 3000 square kilometres, equivalent to the size of the Sydney Basin.
The Government has stopped the program on advice received from the NMG stating it is not technically feasible to achieve eradication of the Asian bee, ultimately declaring the Asian bee endemic.
By now you would be wondering what is so different about the Asian bee to the European honeybee and why this bee is such a threat.
The Asian bee is in fact a smaller bee then the European honeybee. They are aggressive and dominate over the European honeybee and they steal honey from hives, which can eliminate feral colonies of the European honeybee and can decimate the managed hives. The Asian bee cannot be domesticated and they are not effectual honey producers or crop pollinators.
Two weeks ago, hundreds of beekeepers from all reaches of Australia converged on Canberra to voice their concerns to the Gillard Government and to seek that they review the decision to cease the program and immediately allocate $10 million towards the program to eradicate the Asian bees.
The ability to feed ourselves and the world is an issue which affects us all and the decision to stop the funding of the eradication of the Asian honey bee needs to be over-turned to ensure the security of our food production.
The Government needs to put this in perspective and think not what it will cost to eradicate the Asian bee, but what it will cost Australia if we do not act to control this pest.