Varroa mites are parasites that originate from the Asian honey bee (Apis cerana). There are currently two distinct varieties of the parasites, Varroa destructor and Varroa jacobsoni.
Varroa destructor is lethal to the European honey bee, Apis mellifera, which are used in commercial beekeeping in Australia. This species of the mite is responsible for the collapse of honey bee colonies wherever present and are prevalent in Europe, the Americas, Africa, parts of Asia and New Zealand.
Varroa jacobsoni specifically attacks Asian honey bees rather than European honey bees. This is the species that was recently detected in Townsville, causing immense concern within the industry that one of the varroa species has now reached Australian shores. You can read the most recent update on the matter here.
Since the discovery, Capilano Honey has been working closely with the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council to assist with the ongoing eradication plan that has been set in place by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.
Over the last few years, Capilano Honey has been heavily involved in educating beekeepers about Varroa. In 2014, we released a ‘Varroa Destructor Management Pack’ to ensure beekeepers were able to identify the parasite and knew what to do in the event of an incursion.
To accompany the information pack, we recently helped fund a series of engaging videos on varroa, developed by the peak industry body Plant Health Australia. This project saw the Australian government, research organisations, plant industries, private companies and organisations with an interest in honey bees all contributing to preparing for a possible incursion of varroa.
The series of 12 videos covers a broad range of topics including honey bee biosecurity and surveillance programs, a hypothetical varroa incursion in Australia and what it might mean for beekeepers and crop producers, information about the life cycle of varroa and hive inspections, and ways in which varroa can be controlled if it enters and becomes established in Australia.
We are proud to have had a hand in bringing these wonderfully informative videos to life and will continue to work with Plant Health Australia, AHBIC and other relevant industry bodies to ensure the safety of Australian bees and our industry.
We urge the public to remember that if you see any unusual bees, or pests of bees to call the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.