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Don't risk our honey, bees and food security

With beekeepers from around Australia converging on Canberra, the Greens today once again called on the Gillard government to step up efforts to eradicate the invasive Asian honey bee and to protect our food security and this much-loved industry while it still has the chance.

The Asian honey bee incursion at Cairns presents a very significant threat to Australia's honey production and natural environment and the government must urgently review its disputed conclusion that the bee cannot be eradicated.

"Whilst there is any possibility that we can eradicate this bee, the Gillard government must intervene to support the Queensland government with the resources necessary to do so," Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne, said

"The Asian honey bee could become the cane toad of the insect world. It is unacceptable that a decision has been made not to go ahead with eradication in the absence of a full cost-benefit analysis of the impact on our agricultural industries, the environment and the honey industry.

"It is not only our honey supply, our apiarists and our natural environment that will suffer. Australian agriculture is dependent on the pollination services of bees and this is threatened by the Asian honey bee which is a host for the varroa mite.

"In addition, the Asian honey bee is quite aggressive and it is quite possible that it will become a menace in communities across Australia as it nests in cars, buildings, boats and similar places.

"The Asian honey bee displaces native bees and the impact on our natural environment has not been adequately considered, with the CSIRO saying last week that this invasive will spread throughout Australia.

"I was told in Senate Estimates hearings last week that the bee has not progressed beyond a 55km area around Cairns and that there was divided opinion nationally as to whether it was technically possible to eradicate the invasive bee.

"While there is still real hope, we should be pulling out all stops to protect our much-loved honey industry and our native bees and I welcome the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council to Canberra to make sure the government changes its mind."

Jodie Goldsworthy of Beechworth Honey said "Food Security needs bee security. Over $4 billion worth of food products each year depends on pollination by European honey bees."

Lindsay Bourke, Chairman of the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council, said "The Australian Honey Bee Industry Council cannot foot the bill for the eradication effort required and that is why we need the federal government to act in the national interest and help protect food security."

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