Brisbane Bee Bust Sweet as Honey for Quarantine
15 November 2004
In a high-speed midnight sting operation on Saturday night, Quarantine officers stopped a large swarm of bees invading Australia.
The hitch-hiking insects arrived at the Port of Brisbane’s Fisherman Islands wharf on a shipment of empty cargo containers returning to Australia from Papua New Guinea.
P&O workers spotted the bees while unloading containers and contacted AQIS officers, who immediately drove to the wharf to contain the bees and to inspect the vessel and its cargo.
The bees’ nest — the size of a soccer ball — was attached to the bottom of a container.
Quarantine entomologists identified the insects as Asian honeybee, a species that’s not established in Australia.
Senior AQIS entomologist Bill Crowe said the bees could cause more than a billion dollars’ worth of damage to crops that depend on honeybees for pollination, as well as devastating Australia’s honey industry.
“Some of the Asian honeybees were carrying parasitic mites that could pose a very high risk to our local bees by reducing their ability to gather nectar and pollen,” Bill said.
“The bees were contained and fumigated immediately, so it’s unlikely that any of them escaped. We also found the queen bee among the dead swarm: that’s even better news, since worker bees couldn’t establish a hive without a queen,” Bill said.
“However, as a precaution, we’re working with Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries officers who are conducting surveillance within a 10 kilometre quarantine zone.”
17 Jul 2006