Honey bee health is vital to ensure the future sustainability and viability of the honey bee industry as well as the plant industries that rely on pollination services. Keeping honey bees healthy relies on good biosecurity – minimising the risks posed by established pests, and keeping a look out and quickly responding to any exotic pests that enter Australia.
This website is one of the outcomes of a series of honey bee biosecurity initiatives undertaken to protect the health of Australia’s honey bee population. It began with the release in May 2011 of the Varroa Continuity Strategy report by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, A honey bee industry and pollination continuity strategy should Varroa become established in Australia. It was developed in conjunction with an expert steering group consisting of industry and government representatives in response to the House of Representatives 2008 inquiry report, More than Honey: the future of the Australian honey bee and pollination industries.
To oversee the implementation of the Varroa Continuity Strategy outlined in the report, Plant Health Australia (PHA), the coordinators of the plant biosecurity partnership in Australia, was commissioned to promote, co-ordinate, implement and report on the progression of the strategy.
In October 2011, PHA formed the Varroa Continuity Strategy Management Committee (VCSMC) which comprised honey bee scientists, government representatives, R&D agencies and industry representatives from the honey bee industry and pollination-reliant industries.
Many countries around the world have found online Varroa awareness projects to be successful, so the VCSMC decided to develop the BeeAware website to boost preparedness for an incursion of Varroa mite or another exotic pest of bees. Subsequently the scope of the site was extended to include information on established pests already affecting honey bees in Australia, as well as pollination information for a range of plant industries.
Launched in July 2014, BeeAware was developed and is maintained by PHA. Funding for the site was provided by the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council, the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation and Horticulture Innovation Australia.