The Varroa response has reached the grim milestone of 365 days. During the past 12 months I often reflect with appreciation, the magnitude of work that has been done by many in our industry and the NSW DPI. It is this dedication and hard work that has positioned the response to give us the best chance of eradication. No other country in the world has been able to delimit a Varroa detection and embark on eradication, so all has been achieved so far is a credit to the teams people and the biosecurity system.
Aside from Varroa and the response AHBIC has been extremely busy with the many industry conferences occurring across the country and PHA members meeting/AGM that occurred in June. Sentiment across the conferences has been mixed with a general apparent down turn in profitability this season for many.
Highlights of our work over the last month has included the successful running of the 2nd industry Varroa response webinar with around 500 online attendees and more than 3,000 views of the recording. A presentation to an animal health Industry Liaison workshop in Adelaide, and the Queensland Apiarists Association toolbox webinar. There have also been many meetings with Commonwealth departments on the issues we are progressing. I attended (virtually) the advancing market access roundtable to build awareness and understanding of emerging potential markets for honey. This has been on top of the continual Varroa response daily meetings.
The AHBIC AGM will be held in Bendigo, Victoria on the 8th July. There are 3 positions on the executive for election this year with the incumbents all eligible for re-election. I encourage anyone who wants to shape the future of our industry to put their hand up to participate. It is the AHBIC executive who make the decisions that can influence the future of our industry nationally.
Imported Honey Subcommittee
As requested at the 2022 AHBIC AGM we have established the imported honey subcommittee to devise a strategy to minimise the impacts imported honey is having on our industry. The initial task set by the committee was to establish a ‘fighting fund’ to raise money to test imported honey from retail shelves for adulteration.
The data collected will be held by AHBIC in strict confidence to ensure there is no trade impacts. The data gathered will provide a solid data set to be used in lobbying government for improved testing rates and protocols. AHBIC has for years lobbied government to increase testing rates and improve the testing protocols without any traction, being armed with data will strengthen our lobbying activities.
This fund will be launched in the coming weeks with initial funding of $10,000 being successfully applied for through the Producer Contingency Fund to start the program by Bee Industry Council of WA (BICWA).
Plant Health Australia AGM/members meeting/Plant industry Forum/Deed meeting
I attended a series of meetings associated with the PHA AGM in Sydney in early June. This was a great opportunity to network with the other plant industries that are signatories to the Deed and discuss all things biosecurity. The Biosecurity Protection Levy was the hot topic and of course the lessons learnt from the Varroa response.
We had a good session breaking into small groups to workshop issues. I was in a group that worked through solutions to funding the National Bee Pest Surveillance Program (NBPSP) as this funding finishes at the end of 2024. The group worked through many solutions which AHBIC and PHA will look to progress to ensure program funding continuity beyond 2024.
The Month Ahead
The conference season continues along with the Varroa response. AHBIC will be participating in one of the AgriFutures Carbon conversation workshops that are being held in each capital city to further understand any opportunities for the honey bee industry.
AHBIC is working closely with the network of Bee Biosecurity Officers across the country to up-skill their capacity around Varroa to ensure we have a strong network to deliver resources to beekeepers if its needed.
We also have meetings with the Federal Department of Ag to discuss imported honey, non-prescribed goods export and skills training.