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Biosecurity Queensland investigating detection of varroa jacobsoni mite at the Port of Brisbane

26 Feb 2024 10:30 AM | Natalie DIXON (Administrator)

Author: Megan Hughes, ABC Rural

Biosecurity Queensland is investigating how a parasitic mite related to the Varroa destructor mite, which has caused devastation in the bee and honey industry across New South Wales and Victoria, could have arrived at the Port of Brisbane.

A single individual of Varroa jacobsoni was found during a routine inspection of a sentinel hive at the port.

Like Varroa destructor, jacobsoni can cause colony losses.

A spokesperson for Biosecurity Queensland said tracing was underway to determine if the pest had spread beyond the port.

"Surveillance will be conducted in conjunction with the Queensland bee industry and the Australian government," they said.

Varroa jacobsoni has been detected in Queensland before.

It was first found in the Port of Townsville in 2016, but after years of work was declared eradicated in 2021.

This is the first new incursion since the National Management Group (NMG) for the varroa response shifted their focus from eradication to management as a Varroa mite plan was implemented.

Movement restrictions

While Varroa jacobsoni is a different species to the pest plaguing the southern states, it could become a significant threat to beekeepers.

Why are NSW's bees in lockdown?

Varroa mite could impact more than your honey toast. The parasite threatening bee populations agricultural industries rely on.

While the mite's natural host is the Asian honeybee (Apis cerana), researchers from the CSIRO have observed it reproducing on European honeybees (Apis mellifera) — the species favoured in commercial honey production — in Papua New Guinea.

Biosecurity Queensland is expected to issue movement restrictions for hives in the detection area to prevent further spread.

"The movement restrictions will apply to all beekeepers who have hives in or have had hives in the surrounding localities to the Port of Brisbane within the last 90 days," the Biosecurity Queensland spokesperson said.

Restrictions will include the movement of bees, bee hives, and bee products including honey and used beekeeping equipment.

Beekeepers must also notify Biosecurity Queensland of any hive movements in or out of the movement control area or any bees bought or sold in the past 90 days.

Beekeepers’ Society of South Australia Inc.
P.O. Box 283, Fullarton SA 5063
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