Detection of braula fly in bee hives

Sept. 7, 2022 | 5 Min read
Braula fly detected in Victoria during varroa mite surveillance.

The New South Wales government has restricted the entry of all beehives from Victoria after the detection of braula fly in illegally moved hives.

It follows detections of the exotic pest in Victoria in August during varroa mite surveillance and a further two detections on two new properties. 

While the wingless fly is endemic in Tasmania, any detection or suspicion of the fly in other states must be reported to government authorities. 

Its presence in NSW was confirmed by the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) through laboratory testing after a beekeeper reported it. 

Victoria already has a hard border in place with NSW to prevent the spread interstate of varroa mite, which is currently being controlled in NSW through an emergency response.

NSW DPI's chief plant protection officer, Satendra Kumar, says the border closure will allow government and industry to discuss whether regulation of braula should continue.

"The consultative committee (of emergency plant pests) process has sent that information to everybody, we have consulted AHBIC (Australian Honey Bee Industry Council), and also the NSW Apiarists Association," he said.

"So, our position on braula would be formed and we will communicate back to the consultative committee, and I would like to discuss in detail with Victoria, Queensland and South Australia; these are the states that we often have high movement in the eastern seaboard." 

Dr Kumar says the movement condition needs to consider the impact versus the cost of regulation. 

"There has been a lot of commentary that this pest is of very little economic significance, there are no international trade implications and so forth, now if this is all thrown into the mix and we agree that it will not be regulated then that's the decision we will reach in the future," he said. 

"The cost of regulation should never be more than the economic benefit from it, so that's what we need to look at, and ensuring that if we collectively don't regulate, then it's an impost to the industry, what is the preparedness in the industry to live with it?" 

"I've spoken with Tasmania as well and they've had this pest for a while, and they don't think it's a pest of great economic significance.

"According to the industry an average beekeeper moves their hives four to six times a year, just to make sure that their honey bees are able to extract honey as much as possible, so movement is the name of the game in this industry.

Categories Flowering, thinning & PGRs Insect & mite control

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