THE word "scramble" tends to suggest a haphazard, chaotic approach to something.
The battle to bring the Varroa mite under control since its discovery in New South Wales earlier this month could be described as a scramble.
To use scramble might seem an unfair assessment or description of the urgent and mammoth job biosecurity officials have been doing.
Yet it also seems the most appropriate.
This is a very small bug that presents a very big problem. Its rapid spread has really caught many on the back foot.
It's a real blow for the beekeeping industry in Australia at a time when the importance of bees to pollination and crop production has been recognised like never before.
There's no graph to back this up but it certainly seems like the number of research projects and amount of funding gone into pollination and bee-related fields has increased substantially in the past decade.
Australia has woken up to the fact that we need bees.
Pollination experts have become regular inclusions on conference speaker lists.
Things seemed to be on the up.
It's not the first time the bee industry has faced a battle. The bushfires of 2019 saw thousands of hives damaged.
The flooding along the east coast in the past two years provided plenty of headaches for hive owners as well.
Back in 2010 the industry was on alert over the Queensland discovery of Asian honeybee, a known vector for Varroa mite.
At the time, many of the horticulture groups seemed reluctant to give funding in order to develop plans or a cash reserve to help manage an outbreak.
One would hope that attitude has changed since then.
Some crops, particularly the tree nut crops, have enjoyed healthy returns of late. These crops benefit hugely from natural bee pollination.
Hopefully they, as should probably be all the hort commodities, are ready to give and assist the bee industry at this time.
Beekeepers, like their larger livestock-managing and crop-producing counterparts, are not involved in agriculture for the glamour.
They will find a way to endure and tough out the current crisis.
It might mean change; it could mean a very different future for many, but at least it will be a future.
An initial scramble to manage an incursion isn't necessarily a bad thing as those involve lift to a level required to protect a very volatile industry.
Yet it will be a steady, thought-out approach based on good science, developed strategies and planning that will keep pollinators pollinating, and hives humming.
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