Asian Bee threat in Vanuatu

The Asian Bee, an invasive species of bee is threatening the honey resource that is being produced by the European bees in Vanuatu, says Acting Principal Veterinary Officer Dr. Roger Philips.

The Asian Bee that is believed to have entered the country on a shipping vessel is now populating across Port Vila and North Santo, providing unwanted competition for the European Bee, from which quality honey is farmed.

“It’s a main concern with this bee that’s come in, competing for the pollen nectar from the flowers that the European bees require to make the honey and feed their young, we never have had the invasion of Asian honey bees we don’t know where it originated,” Dr. Philips said.

Aside from the increased competition for nectar the invasive illegal immigrant carries a bacterium, unharmful to humans but detrimental to the European Bee ergo an easily supplied contaminant to the European beehive and honey.

“The Asian bee has come with a parasite, a might, that affects the growth of the young bee brood and it has also spread to the European bee population, it’s an unwanted visitor to the country and it has set up residence now.”

In attempts to contain the spread of the invasive species, the Acting Principal Veterinary Officer said they are advising shipping vessels to destroy any nests located onboard, a simple yet necessary step to secure honey production.

“We (Biosecurity) have some info passed to ship owners that every voyage the ships are free of any sign of any bees swarming or setting a nest in the structure.

“All ship owners have been made known about this, hopefully we will be able to contain the bee problem here in Efate and North Santo.”

To exterminate the bees could do more harm than good, Dr. Philips noted that if a poison is used on the Asian bee, there is no guarantee that the European Bee won’t be affected, or even the birds that feed on the nectar.

“You have to set poisonous sugar traps with insecticide, the problem being the Asian bee’s wont only be affected with the sugar solution but the European bees.

“You would have to move the European beehives away and you can’t be sure if those wont sense that sugar. Nectar consuming birds could be affected with this poison as well, so it’s not really an option.”

As the Asian Bee increases its presence in Vanuatu, the hive and honey of the European Bee that provides Vanuatu honey remains at risk.

“It’s a problem, not only competing with the pollen and nectar of the flowers, it is also affecting the growth rate of the reproductive rate of the European bees, it’s quiet a stress on the European bees.”

Currently the physical destruction of Asian Bee nests seems to be the only approach for the time being, however, can the European bees in Port Vila and Northern Santo survive the Asian swarm until a more effective method is reached is yet to be determined.

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