National Bee Pest Surveillance Program (NBPSP)

The National Bee Pest Surveillance Program is an early warning system to detect new incursions of exotic bee pests and pest bees. The Program involves a range of surveillance methods conducted at locations considered to be of most likely entry of bee pests and pest bees throughout Australia.

Pests which are targeted in this Program include Varroa mites (Varroa destructor and V. jacobsoni), Tropilaelaps mites (Tropilaelaps clareae and T. mercedesae), Tracheal mite (Acarapis woodi) as well as pest bees, including exotic Apis spp. such as the Asian honey bee (Apis cerana), Giant honey bee (Apis dorsata), and Dwarf honey bee (Apis florea), as well as exotic Apis mellifera. Regionalised pests, such as Small hive beetle (Aethina tumida) and Braula fly (Braula coeca) are also surveyed for. Early detection of these pests is critical to providing the best possible opportunity to eradicate an incursion, and to limiting the size and cost of an eradication program.

The Program is jointly funded by the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council (AHBIC), Horticulture Innovation Australia (HIA), Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC), Grain Producers Australia (GPA) and the Australian Government through the Department of Agriculture. Extensive in-kind contributions for the implementation of the program are provided through State and Territory Departments of Agriculture, the Australian Government through Department of Agriculture biosecurity staff as well as volunteer beekeepers. At a national level, PHA coordinates and administers the Program.

What are the objectives of the National Bee Pest Surveillance Program?

The National Bee Pest Surveillance Program supports two primary objectives:

Exotic bee pest and pest bee early warning: Acts as an early warning system to detect new incursions of exotic bee pests and pest bees. This greatly increases the possibility of eradicating an incursion, and limits the scale and cost of an eradication program.

Trade support: To facilitate the export of queen bees and packaged bees to countries sensitive to a range of bee pests and pest bees. This Program provides technical, evidence based, information to support Australia's pest free status claims during export negotiations and assists exporters in meeting export certification requirements.

How does the National Bee Pest Surveillance Program operate?

The National Bee Pest Surveillance Program is comprised of a range of surveillance techniques to allow for the early detection of exotic bee pests and pest bees.

The Program is currently primarily based on sentinel hives, which are hives of European honey bees (Apis mellifera) of a known health status, that are maintained at locations believed to be of high risk throughout Australia. These hives are tested every two months using an acaricide (miticide) to provide a means of early detection of Varroa mites and Tropilaelaps mites, which could have potentially entered via exotic bees on a vessel or transported cargo. Samples of bees are also taken from these sentinel hives every two months and submitted for dissection and examination for Tracheal mite, which also could have entered via exotic bees.

To help detect exotic mites, additional surveillance techniques such as routine sugar shaking and alcohol washing at high risk ports by hobby beekeepers, as well as an increased number of catchboxes and remote surveillance boxes (catchboxes with cameras) have been incorporated into the Program.

In an effort to detect the possible incursion of pest bees the development of floral maps and routine floral sweep netting, swarm and nest capture at ports, as well as coordinated awareness and biosecurity training are conducted at high risk locations.

To detect Small hive beetle (Aethina tumida), a combination of oil traps, Apithor traps and beekeeper awareness training is conducted in Tasmania, Northern Territory and Western Australia.

For more information about the National Bee Pest Surveillance Program, what pests are surveyed for, as well as surveillance methods, download the NBPSP Operations Manual.

Reporting and data from the National Bee Pest Surveillance Program is included in the Animal Health in Australia report which is prepared by Animal Health Australia annually, as well as the National Plant Biosecurity Status Report which is prepared by Plant Health Australia annually.