Bees are worth about $90 million a year to Australia, and their value is set to continue increasing as long as the country stays free of deadly pests and diseases.
To ensure that happens, 27 ACT biosecurity staff took part in the Exercise Bee Prepared training program in Canberra on Thursday. Alongside local beekeepers and representatives from various government agencies, they acted out scenarios in which a potential Varroa mite outbreak had been detected.
Bee populations around the world are in decline, with the Varroa mite chiefly to blame.
Australia is the only place in which the deadly pest has never been found, and as one of the world's top 10 producers of honey, the country's access to many overseas markets is driven by its freedom from the deadly pest.
ACT biosecurity senior manager Stephen Hughes said the longer that continued, the more valuable bees would become.
"What would happen if we did get an outbreak of the Varroa mite is that a lot of countries' markets would be closed off to our bee products," he said.
"Bees pollinate about a third of the world's crops, so they're critical to a lot of our exports.
"What today's exercise has shown is that if we did detect Varroa mites, we would be able to stand up an incident response team very quickly to deal with it."
ACT Beekeepers Association president Cormac Farrell, who was the territory government's industry adviser for the project, said Thursday's program involved acting out a fictional scenario in which a hobbyist beekeeper believed they had detected a Varroa mite.
As part of the training exercise, an incident control team was formed and biosecurity officers sent to conduct tests on the hobbyist's hives in Weston Creek.
"One of the tests is a sugar test, which involves putting about 300 bees into a container and coating them in icing sugar," Mr Farrell said.
"The sugar makes any mites on the bees lose their grip, and also forces the bees to groom themselves.
"The mites fall into the sugar, where they're much easier to see and identify."
Exercise Bee Prepared is part of a national biosecurity program designed to prepare Australia to deal with a potential Varroa mite outbreak.
Anyone who believes they have detected a Varroa mite is urged to report it immediately to the Emergency Animal Disease Watch hotline on 1800 675 888.