Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Warning from Asian bees

19.06.2007
Four swarms of Asian bees found in Cairns have been cleared of carrying the dreaded Varroa destructor mite but the intruders themselves could pose the beginning of a serious threat to Australian honey bee populations.

Asian bees are known to have found their way into Australian ports at least half a dozen times in the last decade.

This time it’s a Javanese strain of the bee and because the latest incursion had lain undiscovered for at least three months, it is unknown how many more swarms might exist and how far afield they may have flown.

Within a one kilometre radius from the first colony, disturbed in the mast of a yacht undergoing repairs after two years docked at a wharf in Cairns, three more swarms were found and the search widened.

Already operating under marginal circumstances, many of Australia’s beekeepers can only afford a momentary sigh of relief.

Asian bees (Apis cerana) are capable of carrying two types of Varroa mite – destructor and jacobsoni; the latter would not threaten the health of local bee populations but destructor has wiped out commercial hives and feral populations the world over and Australia is the last remaining major beekeeping country free of it.

Asian bees remain feral, cannot be hived commercially and will attack Australian bees and rob their hives. Compared to the home breed, Apis mellifera, the intruders are nowhere near the same league in the volume of honey they produce.

In the recent experience of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, they could become a serious pest, not just for beekeepers, but of concern to agriculture generally.

Bees play a big role in the food supply chain.

“In the big scheme of things, honey's a bit of a minor product, really,” NSW Department of Primary Industries apiarist Dr Doug Somerville said.

“Roughly one-third of the food we eat relates back to bee pollinated crops, so most of the benefits of honeybees actually come from pollinations.

“About 90 fruit and vegetable crops, including melons, pumpkins, and even cotton are more productive with their help.

“And almond crops rely entirely on honeybees for pollination and Australia’s young almond industry is booming right now in the tri-State region.”

Since varroa mite and other bee diseases hit America and wiped out huge numbers, US beekeepers have also relied on NSWgrown stock to help pollinate their almond trees.

In 2006, Australian beekeepers cashed in, shipping export package bees worth $3-4 million to America.

However, this is in contrast with the rest of the local industry, beset by poor yields and low prices, brought on by the drought.

“The bee industry had a reasonable summer honey crop, but domestic prospects for the next two years look very bleak,” Dr Somerville said.

“There will be very few eucalypt flowerings in the next 12 months, which will lead to a yield well below average in the Australian honey crop over the next 12 months to two years.”

All sections of the local industry accept that the arrival of destructor in Australia is a matter of when, not if, and its effects would be far more dramatic than a wide incursion of Apis cerana.

Contact Dr Doug Somerville, Goulburn, (02) 4828 6619.

Bees drop like flies but mobile phone toll unlikely
Speculation but no defined cause surrounds a massive die-off of bee hives in the US.

Between 25 and 80 per cent of colonies in apiaries have just disappeared, says NSW DPI apiarist Dr Doug Somerville, describing a phenomenon that North American beekeepers have called Colony Collapse Disorder.

“This is causing major concern in the US almond industry, because well over one million bee hives are required to pollinate this crop every February,” Dr Somerville (pictured) said.

He told ABC-TV’s 7.30 Report the collapse has caused US beekeepers to escalate their prices for pollination fees for a range of crops, including almonds and blueberries.

“At this stage, the same collapses have not been reported by Australian beekeepers.”

Mobile phone waves are amongst factors reported as possible causes of collapse in the US but Dr Somerville is dubious this is the cause.

“You would probably expect a lot more colony deaths in urban areas than rural, and this has not been the case,” Dr Somerville said.

“Their problems are likely to be a combination of factors,” Dr Somerville said.

Pesticides residues in the environment from a class of insecticides called neonicotinoids, used variously as seed treatments, on cut flowers, stone fruits, cotton aphids and locusts have not caused any problems in Australia but are now under the spotlight in the US, according to CSIRO entomologist Denis Anderson.

Varroa mites, poor nutrition and generally stressed bees compromising the immune system of the others in hives are also postulated as causes.

Dr Somerville says 30 per cent of beekeepers have exited the US and New Zealand industries since varroa mites arrived because they found managing the pest too hard.

Joanne Finlay | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Ammonium nitrogen input increases the synthesis of anticarcinogenic compounds in broccoli
26.04.2017 | University of the Basque Country

nachricht New data unearths pesticide peril in beehives
21.04.2017 | Cornell University

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>