Australia's biggest blueberry-growing region will be part of a trial using a native fly species to pollinate crops in areas affected by an outbreak of varroa mite. The trial came about following the enforced eradication of recreational and commercial beehives around Coffs Harbour late last year, to contain the deadly parasite.
Berries Australia executive director Rachel Mackenzie said the effect of varroa mite was varied. Some raspberry and blackberry crops had failed, while other growers experienced a drop in berry quality and an increase in pollination costs.
Ms Mackenzie said the situation had led to a partnership between Berries Australia and horticulture research body Hort Innovation to expand its national fly pollinators project to the Coffs Coast.
Like a honey bee, the hover fly (Eristalis tenax) feeds on flowers and when it processes pollen and nectar it is capable of pollination. In Coffs Harbour, the research will be led by the University of New England and seedPurity.