Honey Bees in Australia
Teacher: Good morning, everyone in Today Simona Grant Freeman, a biologist who specialises in identifying insects and who works for the Australian Quarantine Service, has come to talk to us about his current. Was that work right? Well over you
Simona Grant Freeman: Grab. Good morning, everyone. I’m sure that you know that the quarantine service regulates all food brought into Australia. Well, obviously they want to protect Australia from diseases that might come in with imported goods, but they also want to prevent insect pests from being introduced into the country On. That’s where I have a part to play anyway. My current research involves trying to find a particular type of be the Asian honeybee and finding out whether there are any of them around in various states of Australia. We discovered a few of them in Queensland once and eradicated thumb. Now we’re pretty keen to make sure that there aren’t any more getting in, particularly to New South Wales and other states.
Student: What’s wrong with Asian honeybees? Are they so different from Australian bees?
Simona Grant Freeman: Well, in fact, they look almost the same. But they’re infested with mites, microscopic creatures which live on them and which can seriously damage our own homegrown bees or could even wipe them out.
Teacher: Well, what would happen if Australian bees died out?
Simona Grant Freeman: Well, the honey from Australian bees is of excellent quality, much better than the stuffy Asian bees produce. In fact, Australia exports Native Queen bees to a large number of countries. Because of these. When the European honey bee was first discovered out in the bush, we found they made really unpleasant honey on DH. They were also too big to pollinate many of our native flowers here in Australia
Student: that must have had a devastating effect on the natural flora. Did you lose any species?
Simona Grant Freeman: No. We managed to get them under control before that happened, but if Asian bees got in, there could be other consequences. We could lose a lot of money because you might not be aware, but it’s estimated that native bees. Pollination of flower and vegetable crops is worth $1.2 billion a year, so in a way, they’re the farmer’s friend. Oh, and another thing is, if you’re stung by an Asian honeybee, it can produce an allergic reaction in some people, so they’re much more dangerous than native bees.
Teacher: How will you know if A’s and B’s have entered Australia?
Simona Grant Freeman: We’re looking at the diet of the bird called the Rainbow Visa. The beater doesn’t care what it eats as long as they’re insects. But the interesting thing about this bird is that we are able to analyse exactly what it eats, and that’s really helpful. If we’re looking for introduced insects, how come because insects have their skeletons outside their bodies, so the beat has digested the meat from the inside. Then they bring up all the indigestible bits of skeleton and, of course, the wings in appellate, a small ball of waste material, which they cough up,
Teacher: that sounds a bit unpleasant. So how do you go about it in the field.
Simona Grant Freeman: We tracked down the bleachers and find their favourite feeling spots. You know the places where the birds usually feed. It’s here that we can find the pallets. We collect them up and take them back to the laboratory to examine the contents.
Teacher: How do you do that?
Simona Grant Freeman: The pellets were really hard, especially if they’ve been out in the sun for a few days. So first of all, we treat them by adding water to moisten them and make them softer. Then we pull them apart under the microscope. Everything’s all scrunched up, but we’re looking for wings, so we just pulled them all out and straighten them. Then we identify them to see if we can find any Asian be wings.
Teacher: And how many have you found?
Simona Grant Freeman: So far, our research shows that Asian bees have not entered Australia in any number. It’s a good result in much more reliable than trying to find live ones as evidence of introduced in six.
Teacher: Well, that’s fascinating. Thank you, Grant, for those insights, I hope that you might inspire some of our Teacher here to conduct some similar experiments.