Protecting our bees – and a $4 billion industry

June 17, 2015

From: NAB Business Research and Insights (Australia)

Bees that pollinate crops (worth an estimated $4 billion) are under threat from a devastating pest, the Varroa mites.  It leaves them vulnerable to disease and weakens entire colonies and has invaded every beekeeping country except Australia.

“Our bees directly pollinate crops and some, such as apples, pears, cherries and almonds, would completely disappear without them,” says beekeeper Lindsay Bourke. “As Varroa is right on our doorstep I believe that biosecurity is more important in our industry than any other.”

A former chairman of the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council, Bourke was a finalist in the 2014 Plant Biosecurity Farmer of the Year Awards. He manages 3600 hives in Tasmania and his company, Australian Honey Products, exports a range of products including leatherwood honey, certified organic honey and Manuka honey, which is valued for its anti-bacterial properties, to Europe, the Middle East and Asia. He also provides pollination services for over 80 different crops.

Varroa is his greatest fear.

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