Beekeepers have been urged to search for dwarf honey bee nests, especially around Port Kembla and Wollongong, where the world’s smallest bee could pose a huge threat to the beekeeping industry and the environment.
Dr Satendra Kumar, head of plant protection at the NSW Department of Primary Industries, said a dwarf honeycomb was recently found on a ship docked in Melbourne, but which also docked previously in Port Kembla.
“Upon investigation, it turned out that the nest was queenless, meaning there was a small possibility that a queen and a swarm left the ship during her voyage,” Dr Kumar said.
“We urge all beekeepers in Illawarra to be vigilant of suspicious nests, which can be difficult to spot as they usually form on branches surrounded by foliage.
“The dwarf bees, Apis florea and Apis andreniformis grow only about 10mm in length, but they are very invasive, aggressive and harbor several species of parasitic mites.”
Although the species does not carry the number one threat to Australian honey producers, the Varroa mite, it does carry the Tropilaelaps and Euvarroa mites which are major threats to European honey bees.
“It is essential that we do everything possible to protect our environment and our beekeeping industry from invasive bee species like the dwarf bee,” said Dr Kumar.
“If you see a suspicious nest or bees, please report it to NSW DPI so we can investigate and take appropriate action.”
Dwarf bees have a thick red / orange or black thorax and alternating dark brown and white abdominal bands, with a light wing color with dark brown veins.
They are social bees that live in colonies of around 3,000 insects and swarm easily, making them a major threat to the Australian environment.