Fears Asian bee is Australia's next cane toad

Mar 02, 2011
A bee (C) lands to collect pollen on the flower of a Cereus or Hedge Cactus in the coastal suburb of Cottesloe in Western Australia in 2008. The aggressive and invasive Asian honey bee could become as bad a pest in Australia as the cane toad, a senator warned Wednesday, adding that the insect could threaten the country's food supply.

The aggressive and invasive Asian honey bee could become as bad a pest in Australia as the cane toad, a senator warned Wednesday, adding that the insect could threaten the country's food supply.

The , a prolific breeder which secretes a toxin that can kill pets and wildlife, has spread widely in tropical Australia since being introduced to kill in the 1930s, devouring insects, bird's eggs and native species such as the quoll, a cat-like marsupial.

Greens Senator Christine Milne said the bee industry was at risk from an incursion of Apis cerana in the northeastern city of Cairns which was first detected in 2007.

"It is the 21st century equivalent of the cane toad and the bee keepers have been saying that for some time," Milne told reporters, describing the pest as "a cane toad with wings".

The Australian bee industry has urged the eradication of the Asian species, which undermines European populations by competing for food, robbing hives and transmitting disease and parasites.

The industry fears that if the Asian bee becomes established it will destroy European honey bee populations, which are kept in hives and transported around the country to pollinate crops.

Because the Asian bee cannot be kept in boxes, it is not suitable for such techniques.

But government officials are likely to abandon an attempt to wipe out the Asian species at the end of April after saying it was "no longer technically feasible to achieve eradication".

Sustainability Minister Tony Burke said the decision by the Asian honey bee management group was based on scientific research.

"But (it) does not amount to a decision that there will not be continued engagement in other areas other than eradication in terms of control," he told parliament.

Explore further: PacifiCorp Energy pleads guilty in bird deaths

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Asian bees threaten Australia

Jun 15, 2007

Four swarms of Asian bees found in Cairns, Australia, may pose a serious threat to the country's honey bee population.

Invasion of the cane toads

Feb 27, 2008

Why do some invasive species expand rapidly in a new environment while others do not? Scientists from the United States and Australia are beginning to make headway on this question after analyzing how fast ...

Recommended for you

Study finds tropical fish moving into temperate waters

14 hours ago

Tropical herbivorous fish are beginning to expand their range into temperate waters – likely as a result of climate change – and a new international study documents the dramatic impact of the intrusion ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.