Varroa mite situation worsens

Registered beekeepers affected by the NSW Varroa mite (Varroa destructor) outbreak will be compensated by an $18 million compensation package developed by governments and industry. 

The National Management Group (NMG) for Emergency Plant Pests has endorsed a national response plan to eradicate Varroa Destructor from the state, the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has announced. 

The NMG includes representatives from Commonwealth and State government, pollination-dependent industries and the honey bee industry. 

Federal Minister for Agriculture Murray Watt said the agreement ensures registered commercial beekeepers are reimbursed for equipment, bees, hives, and honey destroyed as a result of the eradication process.

“We are firmly committed to the national response plan,” Minister Watt said. 

“Varroa mite is the most significant threat to our honey bee and pollination industries and we unanimously agree that it is both technically feasible and economically beneficial to remove it from our shores.” 

NSW Agriculture Minister Dugald Saunders said eradication is the goal, and the NSW DPI’s initial response and contact tracing work have made this possible. 

“We still have an unbroken chain of infected premises and have extensive surveillance operations in place to find and destroy any further cases,” Saunders said. 

The most recent detections of Varroa are in Jerrys Plains, Denman, and Heatherbrae, bringing the total number of infested premises to 38 since the mite was first identified during routine surveillance at the Port of Newcastle on 22 June. 

The cases at Denman and Heatherbrae fall within previously declared emergency zones, and a new Biosecurity Emergency Order had been issued with additional emergency zones for the case at Jerrys Plains. 

The DPI has amended the state-wide emergency order to allow beekeepers in the state to work their hives, with the exception of those in the red eradication zones around Varroa detection sites. 

Danny Le Feuvre from the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council has welcomed the latest changes to the emergency order. 

“The removal of the ‘do not tamper’ component in the order is important to ensure beekeepers can manage their hives,” Le Feuvre said. 

“This decision is a measured risk-based approach and will allow beekeepers to prevent swarming as we get closer to spring.” 

President of the NSW Apiarists’ Association, Steve Fuller, told The Veterinarian that his organisation and Amateur Beekeepers Australia have provided volunteers to work with the DPI to help with surveillance and eradications.  

“I believe if we all work together and work to this plan we can eradicate it, and we’re going to give it our best shot,” he said. 

“We ask all beekeepers to report their location, and if people see beehives being moved it’s got to be reported.”

Fuller said the mood among the beekeeping community is hard to gauge at present.  

“There are different feelings, and I know some people are saying ‘there’s no planning’, but there is planning, and because it’s a live operation it can take a turn at any stage,” he said. 

Beekeepers have been encouraged to conduct an alcohol wash test on their bees and report results to NSW DPI on 1800 084 881. 

Up to date information about eradication zones can be found at


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