Varroa mite fights evolves

Varroa mite has been detected in hives on the Victorian New South Wales border in the Sunraysia region. Photos: Contributed

AGRICULTURE Victoria is intensifying the fight against the Varroa mite in a bid to protect the honey industry after a national management group meeting involving industry and government bodies on September 19.

Victoria’s Chief Plant Health Officer, Dr Rosa Crnov, said the NSW Varroa mite outbreak was no longer technically feasible to eradicate despite sustained efforts by government and industry.

“Victoria remains free of Varroa mite, and under the transition to management program, the focus will be on slowing the spread of Varroa and ensuring our industries are prepared and supported for its arrival,” she said.

“The transition to management model will support business continuity minimising the impact of varroa on our beekeepers and pollination-dependent industries.

“Surveillance of Vvararroa and keeping track of the movement of bees and beekeeping equipment via our permit system will continue to help us maintain a Varroa-free status in Victoria while we work with industry to adapt to the new model.”

Beekeepers must continue to record any bee movements, regularly test bees for Varroa and follow the requirements of the Control Area Order and any permits they are under.

The pause on processing permit applications from NSW will remain in place for an interim period while applications for permits for movements from all other jurisdictions into Victoria will continue to be processed.

Agriculture Victoria will work on developing the national transition to management plan as part of the Consultative Committee on Emergency Plant Pests (CCEPP) process. The plan’s focus is slowing the spread of Varroa mite, supporting pollination, building industry resilience and providing management solutions.

Since Varroa mite was found 15 months ago, Agriculture Victoria’s world class biosecurity capability has been able to support two successful pollination seasons without the pest entering the state.

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. Varroa mite does not affect native bees.

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

Any suspected cases of Varroa should be reported to the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084