The West

Bee mite poses farming risk
Looming danger: Denis Anderson. Picture: Michael O'Brien/The West Australian

In a world full of obvious and seemingly more pressing dangers, Denis Anderson acknowledges that his primary concern may not immediately stand out.

But, according to the world- renowned Australian scientist, it is just as, if not more, important than many of the problems facing humankind today.

Dr Anderson is frantically searching for a "cure" for the Varroa destructor, a pinhead-sized mite that is threatening the world's honeybee population.

At stake is more than just the fate of the humble honeybee.

Alarmingly, entire agricultural industries, including some forms of horticulture, could be virtually wiped out if the bee, which is crucial to pollinating many plants, is not protected.

Visiting Perth, Dr Anderson said Australia was one of the countries free of the mite but he was worried it would be unprepared for the mite's inevitable arrival, given its presence in neighbouring countries.

"It's a given that it's going to come in," Dr Anderson said.

"It's got to every other country in the world and wherever it's gone it's caused major upheavals, not just in the beekeeping industry but in the broader agricultural system.

"We know this mite is going to come in. We know it's going to cause lots of problems, but in Australia we're not really doing a great deal about it."

Dr Anderson has been seeking to raise money for his research foundation - Bees Downunder - in a bid to develop a strain of bees resistant to the Varroa mite.

The West Australian

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