Dr Anderson has discovered that the varroa is an instinctive creature that performs without choice certain tasks when it receives a certain signal. “We are working on switching off the signal that leads to them reproducing,” he said. “I am not sure how long it will take, but I am convinced we are on the right track.” Dr Anderson said his research team have just embarked on the research to identify this crucial signal that he believes comes from the bee. “We are only just starting down the discovery path and a lot of this is dependent on funding. “But what we are saying is that we have opportunity now by doing all this research to actually switch off the Varroa mite. It’s sort of like a genetic solution. “We want to produce a bee that can’t produce the signal at the critical point of the mite’s life. If we do that we can wipe Varroa out of the bee world.” Living with varroa - The New Zealand experience Dr Mark Goodwin has presided over the incursion of varroa destructor in New Zealand. The devastating mite was first detected in the country in April 2000. Today, the country’s feral bee population has been wiped out by the mite and commercial beehives are the only bees left. Dr Goodwin told delegates at the conference that despite strict
exclusion zones being implemented across the country, nothing could stop the mite’s advancement. “I had the government asking me how much it would cost to eradicate Varroa, but in the end I had to say no amount of money would achieve such a result,” he said. “Bees can no longer survive in New Zealand without humans,’ Dr Goodwin said. “Chemicals are used to eradicate Varroa from the beehives, while the feral populations have been wiped out.” Dr Goodwin said it is unclear how long it will be before the mite develops a resistance to the chemicals used, but suggested it was only a matter of time. He also issued a devastating warning to Australia: “It is only a matter of time before Varroa reaches this country – it has reached places like Hawaii, Tonga, Papua New Guinea. How Australia does not have it is beyond belief actually.” Dr Goodwin indicated that the potential impact on Varroa in Australia could be far more extensive than in New Zealand. “Even before Varroa (arrived in New Zealand) just about every crop was using paid beehives to come and pollinate them,” he said. “Fromwhat I understand, that is not the case in Australia.” It is estimated that only 20% of horticultural crops in Australia use paid beehives for pollination.
Bee king works on biological control The CSRIO’s Dr Denis Anderson is regarded as a world leader on bees. He named the mite that could potentially wipeout Australia’s nativebeepopulation varroa destructor . Dr Anderson has tracked the Varroa mite from its origins in Asia and has learnt how it has evolved to be the deadly parasite that is wiping out honey bees all over the world. The varroa destructor has infiltrated every honey bee country in the world except Australia. He says it is inevitable that it will one day arrive on our shores. It has been in New Zealand since 2000 and was discovered in Papua New Guinea earlier this year. It is on our doorstep and Dr Anderson concedes it is only a matter of time before it is discovered in Australia. Dr Anderson’s research teamreceived the prestigious CSRIO Medal for their work on varroa last year. The $50,000 research grant has been ploughed into helping Dr Anderson and his team develop a biological control for the mite.
“It has been a very worthwhile event for our business,” Andrew Brown, MAIT Industries Exhibitor Feedback "We identified the value being involved several years ago and believe this is one of our ‘must attend’ conferences of the year. " Adam Lean, Netafim
“It is always a very worthwhile trip,” Don Mayo, OMC This is our first year we have been involved and I have been blown away with the professionalism and level of attendance. To be honest it has exceeded my expectations by a fair way and we will seriously look at increasing our involvement next year. Stephen Flaherty, Landmark "We were rapt with the chance to showcase the range of products and services they can offer the almond industry." John Gallard, Gallard Services
"The chance to support the industry and spend time with existing clients had been beneficial." Nick Hall, NuFarm "The ability to discuss and demonstrate some of the new technology that is available to help growers save water and fertilizer was invaluable" “We will definitely be back.”
HortResearch New Zealand's Dr Mark Goodwin and Dr Doug Somerville from DPI New South Wales.
Record attendance at the Almond Board of Australia's Annual Industry Conference held in the Barossa Valley.