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September 25, 2023

 Varroa mite detection near Kempsey

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Australia has a $147m honey bee industry. Photo https://beeaware.org.au.

Beekeepers remain on alert  following two varroa mites being discovered during a mandatory alcohol wash at a bee colony near Kempsey. 

The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has issued a new Biosecurity Emergency Order (28), in the general emergency zone near Kempsey, on the state’s mid-north coast following the confirmation of the new varroa mite detection. 

The detection was immediately reported after the beekeeper undertook a mandatory 16-week alcohol wash and found two mites, which suggests the parasite was detected at an early level of infestation.

The underside of an adult female varroa mite – in reality they are 1-1.8mm long. Photo Wikipedia.

NSW DPI Deputy Incident Controller, Dr Shannon Mulholland thanked the beekeeper for following the advice on alcohol washing and contacting the department as soon they discovered a potential mite.

‘We are working with the impacted beekeeper and are focused on tracing and surveillance to understand how the mites arrived at the location,’ Dr Mulholland said.

‘Given the low mite count and existing surveillance and compliance efforts in the Kempsey area, DPI is confident that this detection is not due to natural or environmental spread from existing red zones.

‘NSW DPI will immediately begin priority surveillance within five kilometres of the infested premises, as well as of any hives that have moved out of or through this area recently. 

‘We are also working with local Police, Highway Patrol and the NSW Rural Crime team to monitor hive movements in the area and to enforce compliance with the Control Order movement restrictions.’

The new case brings the total number of infected premises to 202 since Varroa mite was first identified at the Port of Newcastle in June 2022.   

Based on the information available, NSW DPI continues to believe eradication is technically feasible.

Australia has a $147m honey bee industry. Photo https://beeaware.org.au.

Beekeepers who have hives in the Kempsey area or who have moved hives through the area are reminded to:

  • Ensure they are registered
  • Not move hives from their current location
  • Report the location of those hives to NSW DPI
  • Undertake mandatory alcohol washes on their hives at least every 16 weeks and report the results to NSW DPI within 7 days.

Hive locations and alcohol wash results can be reported to NSW DPI by filling out the online forms at www.dpi.nsw.gov.au or by calling the Varroa Emergency Response Hotline on 1800 084 881.

For more information visit www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/emergencies/biosecurity/current-situation/varroa-mite-emergency.

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