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'Bee' Alert and Report Asian Honey Bee Sightings

16 October 2012

AUSTRALIA - Biosecurity Queensland is asking North Queensland residents to 'bee' on the alert and report suspect sightings of Asian honey bees.

Biosecurity Queensland's Asian honey bee program manager Russell Gilmour said there has been a decline in the number of reports which help to track the spread of Asian honey bees throughout tropical North Queensland.

"The Asian honey bee known infested area surrounding Cairns extends from Port Douglas to South Johnstone and west to Biboohra, Atherton and Malanda," he said.

"Biosecurity Queensland is monitoring and working to minimise the spread of the pest but we still need help from residents in North Queensland to alert us to Asian honey bee sightings.

"Every North Queenslander can play a part by reporting suspicious nests and swarms to Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.

"We especially need residents in high risk areas around Port Douglas, south of Innisfail and west of the Atherton Tablelands to keep an eye out for Asian honey bees."

Mr Gilmour said senior scientist Dr Anna Koetz had joined the Biosecurity Queensland Asian honey bee program and was leading the research team which is enhancing our knowledge and understanding of the Asian honey bee.

"The team are trying to observe as many Asian honey bee nests as possible in the Cairns area during October. To do this we need North Queensland residents to report any sightings," he said.

"Data will be gathered on the pest bee's behaviour, ecology and the effectiveness of current control measures so we can develop enhanced detection, control and management strategies.

"Our scientists will investigate where the bees prefer to build nests, how big the nests are, when and where the bees find food, and how quickly they reproduce and spread.

"We're also trying to understand the potential impact of Asian honey bees on the local honey industry (which relies on European honey bees) and our native bees.

"Reporting nests and swarms not only helps to stop the pest spreading in the region but also gives Biosecurity Queensland scientists opportunities to learn more about the bee."

Mr Gilmour added that the program was now in the 'transition to management' phase, which means developing tools to help the community manage and minimise the spread of this exotic bee.

"Minimising the spread and early detection of new incursions is our key strategy at this point," he said.

To report a sighting of Asian honey bees or for more information, call 13 25 23 or visit the website.

TheCropSite News Desk

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