Extended varroa surveillance comes to end

Nine months after Victoria’s bee population was threatened by Varroa mite, Agriculture Victoria’s extended surveillance has come to an end.

The bee parasite was detected on a ship at the Port of Melbourne in late June 2018.

Agriculture Victoria conducted intensive surveillance around the Port of Melbourne, including four rounds of testing at every known hive within a two-kilometre radius over six weeks.

Since then, Agriculture Victoria has continued to monitor extra sentinel hives and swarm catch boxes strategically placed around the port.

Surveillance will now scale back to business as usual, monitoring sentinel hives at high-risk locations at the Port of Melbourne, Geelong, Portland and Hastings for any sign of unwanted pests that may arrive on ships.

Agriculture Victoria Leading Apiary Officer Joe Riordan said the end of the extended surveillance with no further detections was another milestone for the beekeeping industry.

“Last year’s detection was a reminder for all beekeepers, that everyone has a role to play in protecting Victoria’s bee and pollination industries,” Mr Riordan said.

Beekeepers are reminded to be vigilant for unusual signs in their hives, to regularly check for varroa using the sugar shake method, and to follow the Australian Honey Bee Industry Biosecurity Code of Practice.

“Having good biosecurity measures in place will aid in preventing pests and diseases.

“Varroa mite is a very real threat to Australia. Victoria needs to be ready if a similar event occurs in the future.”

It was the first time Varroa destructor was detected in Australia. The response saw industry, community and government come together to mount a successful response to this incident.

This milestone comes after Agriculture Victoria’s Apiary Program was honoured with a 2019 Australian Biosecurity Award earlier this month. The award recognised a decade-long partnership between Agriculture Victoria and the beekeeping industry which has involved training beekeepers to be part of the rapid response varroa team known as the State Quarantine Response Team (SQRT).

If you suspect a pest or disease in your hives, take photos for identification, note the location and isolate it where possible and report the sighting to the Emergency Animal Disease (including Bees) Watch Hotline 1800 675 888.

/Public Release. The material in this public release comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.