Beekeepers are urged to be vigilant in monitoring for Varroa mite and keep up-to-date with permits as Agriculture Victoria strengthens its surveillance in response to a detection over the border.

Varroa mite is a parasite of adult honey bees and honey bee brood. It weakens and kills honey bee colonies and can also transmit honey bee viruses.

Victoria’s Chief Plant Health Officer, Dr Rosa Crnov, last week provided reassurance that no Varroa mite has been found in Victoria.

On Thursday, August 24, the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries confirmed Varroa mite in beehives at Euroley in the Riverina and Euston in the Sunraysia region, resulting in a new Biosecurity (Varroa mite) Emergency Order being issued.

New South Wales has led a response to eradicate Varroa mite since it was first detected in Newcastle in 2022.

This comes as Victoria’s almond pollination season in the Sunraysia region is coming to an end, and beekeepers are moving their hives to pollinate other Victorian fruit and crops.

Dr Crnov said Agriculture Victoria biosecurity officers have been on the ground in Sunraysia undertaking targeted surveillance, and no Varroa mite was detected.

“Victoria is committed to the National Response Plan and will be undertaking further surveillance in the region,” Dr Crnov said.

“We are also working closely with New South Wales to trace beehives and understand their movements.”

Under the nationally agreed response plan, no hives can move within 25 kilometres of an infested beehive. This applies to bee hives located in Victoria that are located within NSW’s 25km zone at Euston.

“Agriculture Victoria will make every effort to contact any beekeepers that might be affected by this zone,” Dr Crnov said.

“Beekeepers who think they might be impacted are encouraged to contact us.”

Victoria has a rigorous permit system in place to help keep the state free from Varroa mite. A permit is required for anyone bringing bees, hives, queen bees, used beekeeping equipment, pollen for bee feeding, and bee products, including honeycomb, into any part of Victoria from any other state or territory.

Dr Crnov said it is crucial beekeepers follow the mandatory permit system for entry of bees, hives and apiary movements into Victoria.

“This system helps protect our state while enabling essential horticultural pollination activities to continue,” she said.

“Application for queen bees from all states except New South Wales will be assessed.

“Permits will not be granted for queens, escorts and queen cells from NSW at this time.”

Victorian registered beekeepers are required to keep movement records under Victorian regulations, preferably in BeeMAX.

For more information on Varroa requirements, reporting and permit applications, visit the Varroa page on the Agriculture Victoria website agriculture.vic.gov.au/varroa

Any suspect Varroa should be reported to the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.