FOR how long will Australia be able to keep our Western Honey Bees free from the tiny parasite, the Varroa Destructor Mite? ABC Bush Telegraph on Friday 14th August 2009 gave an interesting and informative discussion on this topic. Dr. Denis Anderson, Australian and world authority on the Varroa Destructor mite not only gives an historical background to the bee’s development over five million years, but there was also the tasting of different Australian honeys. Our unique position in the world with regard to bees is enlightening.
Australia is the only country in the world that does not yet have this parasite pest and there is grave concern about the mite arriving in Australia and destroying our viable and unique honey industry. In the late 19th century the Western Honey Bee, the Ligurian bee Apis Mellifera Ligustica, was imported from Italy to Kangaroo Island. The isolation of Kangaroo Island from the mainland has helped to maintain a genetically pure population of the Western honey bees that are descendants of the original Liguraian queens. The Kangaroo Island honey bee is now thought to be the last remaining pure stock of this Italian bee found anywhere in the world. They are considered an important genetic resource for queen breeders and for apicultural research.