New online tools to help industry BeeAware of biosecurity

Bee on orange flowerA smart phone application to help beekeepers identify pests in their hives is part of a suite of digital tools being developed to improve the biosecurity capability of the industry.

The project will also see a review and re-design of the BeeAware website, an online biosecurity training course, and an annual survey of beekeepers conducted to help provide statistics on the industry’s value and understanding of bee health.

It’s being led by Plant Health Australia (PHA) under the Honey Bee and Pollination R&D Program, which is a partnership between the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC), Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited (Hort Innovation) and the Australian Government.

Beekeeper and spokesman for the Program, Ben Hooper, says the project will continue to build on recent initiatives to ensure the industry moves toward best practice.

“The development of the BeeAware website has provided a central point for beekeepers to access information about biosecurity, and both endemic and exotic pests and diseases that affect the industry,” Mr Hooper said.

“The new funding will help to improve the content and functionality of BeeAware, including new pages for the Biosecurity Code of Practice and the National Bee Biosecurity Program.

“Mandatory and regular training is part of the Code for commercial beekeepers, and the project will also see the development of a new free, online biosecurity course which it’s hoped hobby beekeepers will also undertake.”

Mr Hooper said the development of a BeeAware Pest ID App will provide another important tool.

“It will include a decision tree which newer beekeepers and those not familiar with some of the pests that can affect their hives will be able to work through to determine exactly what they’re dealing with.

“This will lead to a page providing information on ways of managing that pest – which more experienced beekeepers will be able to skip straight to if they want.

“Contact details will also be provided for Bee Biosecurity Officers employed in each state to support beekeepers, along with a reminder to report discoveries to the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline, 1800 084 881.

“The app will be particularly important to help beekeepers identify pests that are not already in Australia, such as the varroa mite which has devastated most other honey-producing countries around the world.”

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