Capilano Honey

Australia’s food security is under attack from varroa mites that kill bees. Was it an accident or was it from illegal importation of bees?

Australia’s food security is under threat with an almost unstoppable outbreak of varroa mites in Newcastle (NSW) and the surrounding regions which could cost Australia $billions.

Most Australians at this point would not realise what damage the varroa mite can do. But in 2000 in New Zealand, a varroa mite outbreak led to 90% of bees being killed which almost destroyed the industry. And if that were to happen in Australia it would cause $billion in damage to Australia’s agriculture industry which relies on bees for pollination.

I interviewed Simon Mulvany, who runs the Save the Bees Australia Facebook page and the Bee the Cure website, on Monday (4/7/22) in the below video and discussed the key issues surrounding the varroa mite outbreak.

One of the issues is where did the outbreak come from. The government is suggesting it likely came from international ships at the Port of Newcastle. But Ben Brown is one of the beekeepers who has been ordered to destroy his bees, even though they are apparently clear of the varroa mite, and his father Trevor Brown was convicted of illegally importing queen bees.

The exact date of the conviction and crime is uncertain as The Daily Liberal, a Dubbo paper, says it was first reported in 2001 and updated in 2012. They report:

The entry of exotic bee diseases into Australia would have far wider implications than destroying the honey industry, according to a local apiarist.

A number of agricultural industries, especially legumes, would be left high and dry without bees, Warren Jones said yesterday.

He was commenting after the peak bee industry body slammed what it believed was a lenient punishment given to a Mendooran beekeeper who risked wiping out Australia’s $2 billion honey industry with the insect equivalent of foot-and-mouth disease.

Terry Brown was sentenced to 200 hours community service and fined $1000 after attempting to smuggle eight Italian queen bees concealed in pens into the country.

“If someone brought foot-and-mouth disease (to Australia) would they get a $1000 fine and 200 hours community service?” questioned Mr Jones, who is involved in honey production and pollination. (Click here to read more)

Interestingly, there are reports today that foot-and-mouth disease is a major problem in Indonesia and has spread to Bali which is the closest it has ever been to Australia and the government is worried tourists might bring it home with them. (Click here to read more)  

The ABC is reporting that the varroa mite outbreak has now spread:

The deadly parasite that has affected honey bee populations has been detected hundreds of kilometres from initial sites in Newcastle, with a new emergency zone in north-west New South Wales.

The varroa mite has been detected in Narrabri, with the NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) linking it to previously known cases in Newcastle. 

Acting Chief Plant Protection Officer Chris Anderson said the affected honey bee hives were stored for several months next to an already affected hive in Newcastle before being moved to Narrabri. (Click here to read more)

From what is written on Facebook, Ben Brown has been ordered to kill all the bees in his 2000 bee hives and destroy his equipment so he is taking a huge hit and I do not suggest he has been involved in importing bees. But given his father, Trevor Brown, has a conviction for illegally importing bees that is an avenue that the government should be investigating as a possible source of the varroa mite outbreak. 

The varroa mite issue and its fallout is something I will continue to monitor as regular readers know I have covered bees, honey and food fraud etc for over 5 years and they all involve government failure and/or corruption. I will do further reports on either this website and/or on my YouTube channel and Facebook page so make sure you follow them all.

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9 replies »

  1. Shane, just to let you know, that was no accident. Accidents bring emergency responders. No sirens or flashing lights were observed. Therefore it must’ve been illegal.

  2. The disasterous New Zealand infection in the 90’s was from on illegal importation…terrible… espec for the wild bees – gone in months. For years, all you’d see were Bumble Bees…

  3. I don’t understand why this is not considered a very serious issue by the mainstream press. We’re talking about our food security! This is the current headline on “11,000 PEOPLE IN THE DESERT: Insane scenes at Australia’s wildest party.” I mean really? Honestly, who gives a damn about this?

  4. Bees and apiary agriculture along with consumers have been consistently ignored by Australian governments. At one time Australian bred Queens were being exported to USA to counter losses suffered there as a result of Varoa. We as a nation are a joke when invasions such as this are treated lightly in that an illegal importation renders the culprit liable for the proverbial thrashing with a feather. What a fool is he prepared to endanger his own industry. But then look at the import of prominent supermarket supposedly pure honey which has been shown to be adulterated. KCA has exposed Capilano in this publication Any convictions. ACCC enquiries ? Simon Mulvaney and his analogy to Foot and Mouth says it all ! Possibly sad as it is the cattle lobby has greater influence than Save The Bees or journalists with backbone such as KCA.

  5. Smells a little bit ripe for a sniff. You do have a very good handle on the honey and beekeeping scene. Keep digging. Good luck. Capalano? Stokes? do much of a connection for my liking!

  6. This outbreak will be a gargantuan economic disaster to the Aust. economy .We are already struggling with costs rising in the vegetable & farm produce. These costs will skyrocket for consumers if we don’t get this under control. A disaster about to explode.

  7. This matter really challenges the depths of me. I liken it to the imagery I had many years ago … whereby the bean counters will still be sitting in their offices and working on their spread sheets on screen … but not look out of the windows of their buildings, to see and note the cess pool the Swan River has become and the barren “environmental” surrounds. I am totally gobsmacked. Hold to task KCA – good work – I really do appreciate it! Thank You

  8. The USA restrictions on Australian honey bees is interesting considering that we were free of these parasites when package bees from Australia were banned. Especially since we are a major ally and trading partner to the US.

    Considering recent allegations of bio agricultural warfare experiments uncovered in Eastern Europe recently undertaken by the USA and its partners. Its hard to know who is responsible for the outbreak of varroa and the continued external existential treats to the Australian Honey Bee industry.

  9. The headline actually hurts to read. The distinction is not between “accident” and “illegal”. There’s no point of comparison between these words. “Accidental” and “intentional” are the two distinctions. The infected bees were imported illegally. Was the varroa a mite intentionally imported along with the illegally imported bees? Of course not. Was the mite accidentally imported along with the illegally imported bees? Of course. It can’t be accidental OR illegal. It was accidental AND illegal.

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