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September 25, 2023

Varroa mites continue to move north

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

In an ever-increasing threat to the Northern Rivers, the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) say that tracing has uncovered a new Varroa mite infestation in beehives north of the existing Nana Glen purple zone, at Barcoogere in the Coffs Harbour region.

NSW DPI Chief Plant Protection Officer, Shane Hetherington said the infestation was discovered following NSW DPI tracing movements from the Kempsey cluster, in this case undertaken legally six months ago.

‘Due to the length of time this infestation has been there, and a relatively high mite load a 10km eradication zone and 25km purple zone will be implemented,’ said Dr Hetherington.

Disappointing and worrying

‘We know this news will be disappointing and worrying to beekeepers in that Coffs Harbour region who have been free from Varroa until now, and we will be working quickly to understand any further spread.

‘Our teams are tracing all movements from the Kempsey zones and surveilling them as we know many of these movements have already spread mite to other blue zones.’

NSW DPI has immediately established Emergency Eradication and Emergency Surveillance zones around the sites, under a new Biosecurity Emergency Order published yesterday, Sunday September 10.

Nine new infested premises

Lab results over the weekend have also uncovered nine new infested premises (IPs) in the Kempsey cluster which will result in slight zone changes north and south. Total IPs are now 264.

Dr Hetherington said uncovering these IPs in the Kempsey cluster is not unexpected as the response is focused on surveillance in that zone to understand and control the spread.

‘We know there is significant spread in this zone, some of which has moved to other areas around the state, and we are very much focused on understanding the spread and delimiting any further spread.’

Hive locations and mandatory 16-week alcohol wash results must 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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  1. Well, let’s hear it for the wonderful work of the DPI !
    So far their efforts are on par with their halting the spread of fire ants, yellow crazy ants and the innumerable invasive species of weed plants
    ( many of them, like the cane toad having been released by the DPI, tropical legumes such as Desmodium or -Velcro weed-, Gamba grass and even prickly pear.)
    Varroa mite will, no doubt, soon occur all over Australia, which is bad news for the invasive European bee, luckily though it does not seem to affect any of the thousands of native bees. So damage will mainly be confined to the swollen wallets of commercial beekeepers and honey lovers who have already been mugged by outrageous prices for counterfeit product that is highly substituted by syrups of corn etc. .
    Cheers, G”)

    • Just take a look at the Varroa Mite Emergency Zone Map that DPI puts out on its website, the Varroa is out of control!

      This, the latest update from DPI website –
      “Current Situation Update 12 September 2023
      Total Infested Premises (IPs) are currently 266, with a new infested premise at Nericon within the existing red zone in the Riverina, and another in the Kempsey cluster also within the existing EEZ.

      A new order Emergency Order has been published today.

      Both IPs are within the existing EEZ at Nericon and Kempsey respectively and have resulted in very minor zone adjustments.

      We strongly encourage beekeepers with hives in these areas to check if their hives may now be located within the EEZ, using the interactive map on this page (below). Beekeepers should also call 1800 084 811 to confirm if their hives are now within an emergency zone.

      The detections have been uncovered through the extensive surveillance being undertaken by NSW DPI staff, and the origin of the infestation is being investigated.”

      DPI, the Varroa is loving your work to date!


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