The detection of varroa mite at the Port of Newcastle has created a buzz about bees and their critical pollination role.
The number one threat for Australia's bee industry, varroa mite is the latest in a growing list of diseases to either enter Australia or sit menacingly close.
It is also another reason to modernise our biosecurity defences.
Before last week, Australia held the accolade as the only honey-producing nation free of varroa mite.
This enviable position has ended, for now, and the $70 million Australian honeybee industry - as well as the innumerable primary industries reliant on pollination services to thrive - are now at risk.
Can we get rid of it?
The NSW Government has promptly enacted a statewide emergency, halting the movement of bees across the state, and requiring beekeepers within a 50-kilometre radius of the Port of Newcastle to report their hives with the NSW Department of Primary Industries.
We encourage all beekeepers to abide by the department's advice.
Australia has been on high alert to biosecurity risks over recent months, particularly after the detection of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) and lumpy skin disease (LSD) in nearby Indonesia.
The unprecedented spread of Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) - the mosquito-borne disease endemic to tropical regions - to southern states amid ongoing wet weather conditions is another key concern.
We live in a changing world and the consequences of shifting climate patterns and higher trade volumes will include a growing number of pest and disease incursions.
The NSW Government has recognised this new reality with a promising investment in biosecurity in the state budget.
Meanwhile, the federal Labor government made an important election commitment to a container levy, which is in line with our calls for a long-term funding model for biosecurity.
The value of biosecurity investment is difficult to measure when the result is intangible.
But the cost of inaction is simply too high.
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