Cherry industry: biosecurity threat averted

Written by   Ken Gaudion

All industries relying on pollination should be grateful to the master of a ship at Port of Melbourne.
In late June the master saw dead bees on the ship and reported it to the appropriate authorities in Melbourne.

As a result, a bee colony was found in a wooden crate that had originated in Texas, USA. The crate contained electrical equipment .
We should also be grateful to Agriculture Victoria, and the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture and Water Resources for their prompt action in testing for Varroa mite in the bee hive colony—which was found to be positive.
It was Varroa Destructor, a mite that is a vector for a virus that has decimated bees in almost every country.
Sentinel hives that had been placed around the Port of Melbourne showed negative readings for the existence of Varroa in those hives, so it is not likely that the bees had flown beyond the ship.
Positive outcome
This positive outcome is a result of cooperation between the pollination industries, apiarists and biosecurity agencies who have worked together for several years and formulated a plan to combat a possible incursion of Varroa mite in Australia.
Pollination by honey bees is responsible for $4 billion worth of produce each year.
Industry expansion depends on pollination
The cherry industry is in expansion mode, but it's nothing compared to the rapidly growing almond industry in Australia.
With 40,000 acres currently in the ground and another 10, 000 acres planned, the demand for extra pollination will increase by at least 100,000 hives.
This needs to be supported by increased pollen from native sources and more hive sites in native forests to ensure the health of the hives.
So as a cherry grower you should understand just how important it is to maintain a good working relationship with your local apiarist—because without good pollination there is no profitable cherry crop.

See this article in Tree Fruit July 2018

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