Prevention of exotic pests of honey bees

Plant Health & Environment Laboratory Ministry for Primary Industries 1, Qinghai Fan *1

1 231 Morrin Road, St Johns, Auckland

For the last twenty years New Zealand has been running a surveillance programme on the honey bee exotic pest and disease to provide an early warning of incursions and give assurance of country freedom for targeted organisms. Every year 350 high risk site samples and more than 300 export samples are collected from both North and South islands and tested in the Plant Health & Environment Laboratory and Animal Health Laboratory. The visual and microscopic examination and washing methods are applied for the detection of external mites and insects, the thoracic disc method for the detection of the tracheal mite (Acarapis woodi), and morphological and morphometric analysis for the detection of Africanised honey bee (Apis mellifera scutellata) and its hybrids. Recently real-time PCR assays have been developed for the detection of tracheal mite, small hive beetle (Aethina tumida) and Africanised honey bee. The assay for tracheal mite detected down to a 1% incidence level in bees and 1000 copies of the target DNA when using plasmid standards. It has been shown to be reliable when the standard thoracic disc method is used as a backup to screen bees where a positive signal is obtained. The assay for small hive beetle showed high specificity and sensitivity for detecting the beetle, with no cross-reaction with closely related species. A dual-target real-time PCR assay for the rapid identification of Africanised honeybee and its hybrids was optimised and validated against a range of internationally sourced test organisms. These assays provide robust protocols for the detection of target pest of honey bees.   Key words: Surveillance; invasive; mites; pests; Africanised honey bee; small hive beetle; tracheal mite

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