Species of large african hive beetle have the potential to become invasive and highly damaging to the worldwide beekeeping industry, according to Australian researchers.
Large african hive beetle(LAHB) can cause significant damage to honey bee colonies and is currently widespread in Africa.
Currently the pest is regarded as ‘low risk’, but the Australian first research review – led by Professor Ben Oldroyd from the University of Sydney – recommends that the current biosecurity risk assessment be changed to ‘high’.
While the pest is yet to spread to Australia, the risk assessment has identified the potential danger of importation of eggs, larvae or pupae in dung should be considered ‘medium, and that the likelihood of establishment after importation is high.
Chairman of the Honey Bee and Pollination Program Advisory Panel, Michael Hortnizky said the report also identifies the likely economic impact of LAHB as high.
“These are sobering research results but it also provides vital information and education to the Australian beekeeping industry on how to identify the pest should it ever be suspected locally,” Dr Hornitzky said.
“Since 2002 we have experienced the incursion of Small Hive Beetle here in Australia, and prior to the threat, the industry was not prepared, or informed to deal with, for such a biosecurity breach,” he said.
“This particular piece of research, funded by the Honey Bee & Pollination Program, highlights how beekeepers in Africa and Kenya have dealt with LAHB.
“The assessment also provides Australian beekeepers with information on how to prevent its introduction, as well as identify the pest should it arrive in the country.”
“The safety and strength of our local beekeeping industry relies on the evaluation of risks of pests and diseases, and it is vital there is an awareness and understanding about potential threats.”