Australian bee-keepers are working hard to stop the spread of the Asian bee, which has been tracked from Indonesia to Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.
The Sydney Morning Herald quotes the CSIRO’s Dr Denis Anderson as saying without monitoring and prevention measures, the Asian bee could spread across mainland Australia in 10-20 years, decimating the honey industry, and threatening other food crops such as almonds and apples.
The Asian bee was introduced to West Papua from Indonesia. From there it spread to Papua New Guinea and then the Solomon Islands, where it has wiped out 90 per cent of the European bees.
The Asian bee also hosts the varroa mite, which lays its eggs in the wax cells. These hatch and feast on the bees’ lifeblood, weakening them and decimating hive populations. In PNG, it took just 20 years from the invasion of the Asian bee for the varroa mite to get into European bee hives.