Australia yesterday abandoned its fight to eradicate the destructive Varroa mite, an invasive parasite responsible for the collapse of honeybee populations across the planet.
Desperate to keep Varroa out of the country, authorities have destroyed more than 14,000 infected beehives since the tiny red-brown pest was first detected north of Sydney in June last year.
The government said its US$64 million eradication plan could not stop the mite from spreading, and the country’s beekeepers should now prepare to live with the incursion.
“The recent spike in new detections have made it clear that the Varroa mite infestation is more widespread and has also been present for longer than first thought,” officials said in a statement.
Australia was one of the last major beekeeping countries to successfully keep Varroa at bay.
Smaller than a peppercorn, Varroa mites attach themselves to honeybees and slowly feast on their body tissue from the outside — eventually spreading through hives and causing colony collapse.
They are the “most serious pest of honeybees worldwide,” the Australian government has said.
Australian National University ecologist Saul Cunningham said that the Varroa infestation would also damage agricultural industries reliant on pollination.
The “Varroa mite will cause significant economic damage in agriculture, and so it is vital that we focus on adaptation to life with Varroa,” Cunningham said.
Australia’s native honeybees have proven resilient to Varroa mites, but do not play a major role in honey production or agricultural pollination.
University of Sunshine Coast associate professor Volker Herzig said the “final nail in the coffin” was a government decision that allowed beekeepers to transport their hives across state boundaries to help with pollination.
Every year, about 270,000 beehives are trucked into the state of Victoria to pollinate almond orchards — an annual pilgrimage billed as the “largest movement of livestock” in Australia.
Herzig said Australia must “now find permanent solutions for managing our beehives,” which “most other countries around the world” have been doing for years.
JUMPING BAIL: The democracy advocate said made the decision after ‘considering the situation in Hong Kong, my personal safety, my physical and mental health’ Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Agnes Chow (周庭), who was jailed over her role in massive 2019 protests, on Sunday said she had moved to Canada and would not return to meet her bail conditions. Chow was one of the best-known young faces of the 2012, 2014 and 2019 protest movements against Beijing’s increasingly authoritarian rule in Hong Kong. She spent about seven months behind bars for her role in a protest outside Hong Kong police headquarters in 2019, when huge crowds rallied week after week in the most serious challenge to China’s rule since Hong Kong’s 1997 handover. On Sunday
TAKING STOCK: It was not yet clear how damaging the espionage, dating to 1981, has been, as authorities are still assessing the situation, the State Department said A former US ambassador to Bolivia has been arrested and charged with spying for Cuba over a 40-year span, the US Department of Justice announced on Monday, detailing a shock betrayal by a suspect who called the US “the enemy.” US Attorney General Merrick Garland laid out the allegations against Victor Manuel Rocha, a onetime member of the White House’s National Security Council now accused of using his positions within the government to support Cuba’s “clandestine intelligence-gathering mission” against the US. The charges against Rocha, 73, expose “one of the highest-reaching and longest-lasting infiltrations of the United States government by a foreign
DARK WARNINGS: If Trump survives his court trials, neither the Supreme Court nor the US Constitution could stop him from becoming president for life, a ‘Post’ column said Former US president Donald Trump on Tuesday declined to rule out abusing power if he returns to the White House after Fox News host Sean Hannity asked him to respond to growing criticism of his rhetoric. The Republican presidential front-runner has talked about targeting his rivals — referring to them as “vermin” — and vowed to seek retribution if he wins a second term for what he argues are politically motivated prosecutions against him. As Trump has dominated the Republican presidential primary, US President Joe Biden has stepped up his own warnings, contending that Trump is “determined to destroy American democracy.” “Under no
Seventeen people died and 11 were injured when a passenger bus careered off a road on a “killer curve” and plunged down a mountain in the central Philippines, officials said yesterday. The bus was traveling in Hamtic municipality in Antique province when the crash happened on Tuesday afternoon, Antique Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office head Roderick Train said. Seven people were in critical condition in a hospital and four others were stable, Train said, describing the section of road as “accident prone.” One Kenyan national was among those killed, and a second Kenyan was among those critically injured. The bus, which came from