Apiarist Athol Craig places traps in a bee hive to protect the colony from the Small Hive beetle.
Apiarist Athol Craig places traps in a bee hive to protect the colony from the Small Hive beetle. Craig Warhurst

Food chain threat as bees buzz off

THE accidental introduction of a tiny beetle into Australia has put the hardworking honey bee under threat in the Gympie region, as anecdotal evidence suggests they are fast disappearing from our backyard veggie gardens.

Without bees and their crucial role as pollinators our food chain would effectively collapse, and experts are increasingly concerned about the potential impact on food production.

Gympie beekeeper Athol Craig welcomes a State Government initiative inviting commercial growers and backyard gardeners to take part in a bee pollination survey to help fight this serious pest.

The beetle, from South Africa, was first detected in 2002.

Mr Craig said he has been pushing for something like this for five years.

He fears feral populations of bees, which many producers rely on for pollination of their crops and trees, may have already been decimated.

“I’ve heard from people who have been small-cropping all their lives and have had to pollinate by hand for the first time ever,” he told The Gympie Times yesterday.

Dr Diana Leemon from Agri-Science Queensland said the beetles were spreading up to 15 kilometres a day.

“In the last year alone, 734 Queensland beekeepers reported more than $2.1 million in hive losses due to the Small Hive beetle,” she said.

Mr Craig has had some success with management strategies that use traps filled with vegetable oil to kill the pest, which, if untreated, will totally destroy hives when large numbers of larvae build up.

The pollination survey data will be used to help scientists and industry groups in the fight against the beetle.

The online survey is available at www.surveymonkey.com/s/PVSZTR6.


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Bees vital to produce pollination

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