VOLUNTEER beekeepers around the State are working with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development to help guard Western Australia’s honey bees from pest and disease threats.
The joint surveillance effort forms part of an expanded National Bee Pest Surveillance Program which provides an early warning system to detect new bee pests and diseases.
The department is coordinating surveillance across the State, with special ‘sentinel’ hives placed at key shipping ports and other strategic locations where imports pose a risk of bringing in exotic bees or pests.
Beekeeper Eric Mellor, who has hives in Kewdale, has volunteered to take part in the program in the Perth metropolitan area.
“I became interested in beekeeping in my teens and had a hive at my family home in South Perth in the early 1960s,” he said.
“I became more intensely involved about nine years ago when I joined the WA Apiarists’ Society and in 2012 I heard a biosecurity presentation.
“As I had been travelling Europe and was aware of the problems they were having with pests and the varroa mite, I volunteered my hive site in Kewdale to be part of this program to ensure the protection of our bee industry here in WA.”
Department project officer Andrea Johnston said activity had increased under a five-year program, to include additional regional shipping ports and more targeted surveillance.
“Sentinel hive surveillance has increased from 14 sites to 44 sites, from Derby in the north through to Esperance in the south,” Ms Johnston said.
“There are 19 dedicated beekeepers who have volunteered to locally manage and monitor the sentinel hives and undertake regular surveillance.”