THEY'RE the two buzz words that have the potential to sting Australia's lucrative honeybee industry - varroa mite.
Federal and state biosecurity authorities are on alert after the varroa jacobsonii parasite was discovered aboard a foreign ship in Sydney's Botany Bay last month, attached to a swarm of Asian honeybees. It is believed all bees and mites were destroyed.
An outbreak of the closely related varroa destructor mite in Australia would pose a deadly threat to the European honeybees upon which the honey industry and the horticultural sector relies.
It's with that in mind that dozens of Victorian beekeepers gained qualifications to join the State Quarantine Response Team at the weekend.
"The initial response after the discovery of varroa is there will be no movement of beehives," said Castlemaine beekeeper Peter McDonald, chairman of the quarantine team.
He said a honeybee lockdown could have drastic effects on horticulture, depending upon the time of year an infestation was discovered.
It could hurt yield for crops that rely on pollination services from honeybees such as cherries or almonds.
He said early containment was an important step in fighting and eradicating varroa.