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CEO Update February 2023

27 February 2023

February has been another busy month for AHBIC.  The Varroa response continues to dominate our activities.  Despite this we have been able to progress the establishment of the imported honey […]

February has been another busy month for AHBIC.  The Varroa response continues to dominate our activities.  Despite this we have been able to progress the establishment of the imported honey committee, progress on national agreement for an agreed alcohol wash protocol, establishment of the international honey bee product standards domestic mirror committee as well communicating with DAFF on biosecurity, imported honey testing protocols and developing export markets.

Varroa Response

New Varroa detections continue to be found as the first round of surveillance nears completion in the Newcastle complex.  These new detections are not unexpected and are mostly at low mite levels.  However, the new detections do continue to expand the red zones capturing more beekeepers.  This is devastating for all the beekeepers caught up in it, and we hear daily from destressed beekeepers in these zones.

The baiting programme has been continuing.  Efficacy trials with managed colonies are showing quick mortality at a distance from the bait stations despite local honey flows reducing bait station visitations.  All zones now have baiting activity with the program concentrating on working from the western side of the Newcastle complex back towards the east.  Drone ballooning is being trialled in the Nana Glen area to estimate the feral bee density.

The new detections around the Taree area are disappointing and AHBIC has advocated on behalf of industry lobbying the DPI to fully investigate the circumstances surrounding these new detections.  Whilst disappointing it is directly linked to the Newcastle complex and been detected relativity quickly limiting the possibility of significant spread through the area.  The CCEPP will convene to discuss the new Taree area detections and determine the pathway forward for the response.

Imported Honey Subcommittees

The Imported Honey Subcommittee has met for the first time to establish a strategy to combat cheap imports.  As a result of the long discussions, it was resolved to establish a fund that will focus on ramping up imported honey testing by AHBC to generating data as a first step.  This will provide information to demonstrate to the government the extent of the issue.  The committee will meet again soon to continue working on strategies to address the problem.

AgriFutures Australia’s EvokeAg

AHBIC presented at the recent EvokeAg conference in Adelaide on biosecurity.  The conference had over 1600 delegates across the 2 days.  There was a strong honey bee flavour with many agritech startups targeting the honey bee industry. The conference provided an opportunity for AHBIC to meet with the Federal Minister for Agriculture and the SA Minister to further discuss and advocate industry issues while at the conference.

Industry Liaison Training

Feedback that AHBIC has provided to Plant Health Australia (PHA) in response debriefs has highlighted the need for more regular industry liaison training (ILO).  As a result, PHA are running several training sessions across Australia with the first opportunity completed in Brisbane during February.  ILO training will next be run in WA then Tasmania, SA before returning to the east coast.  Keep an eye out at Plant Health Australia for this opportunity if you are interested.

The Month Ahead

The Executive are meeting to workshop the new AHBIC strategic plan and to develop the framework documentation before industry consultation of the final draft.  We have many meetings around Varroa coming up including CCEPP and NMG discussions.  Towards the end of the March AHBIC will be participating in the AgriFutures Levied Industry Forum to discuss common issues across industries and work on solutions with an opportunity to provide feedback to AgriFutures.  AHBIC will be attending the national biosecurity roundtable towards the end of March.  Other meetings scheduled include the National Residue Survey consultation, Indonesia’s Halal certification requirements, Vietnam market development and many more.