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Bee Culture

Australia’s Growing Varroa Fears

By September 8, 2023No Comments

Western Australia honey industry fears biosecurity ‘complacency’ has left state ill-prepared for a varroa mite outbreak

ABC Rural

/ By Joanna PrendergastSophie Johnson, and Belinda Varischetti

Pemberton beekeeper Mike Cernotta says WA needs to take the varroa threat more seriously. (ABC South West WA, Jon Daly)

West Australian honey producers say they are increasingly anxious about the spread of the destructive varroa mite across New South Wales and fear complacency has left the state’s industry ill-prepared for an outbreak.

Key points:

  • As varroa spreads in NSW, the WA beekeeping industry is divided over whether eradication is still possible
  • There are fears traffic moving from the east will inadvertently transport the destructive mite into WA
  • But authorities say they are “incredibly confident” it can be kept out.

Varroa destructor attacks European honeybees and is regarded as one of the greatest threats to Australia’s honey and honey bee pollination plant industries.

It was detected in sentinel hives in NSW in June last year, but has spread to several new locations in recent weeks, prompting debate about whether eradication is possible, or if NSW should transition to a varroa management policy.

Pemberton beekeeper and WA Bee Industry Council vice chair Mike Cernotta said there was a “huge risk” of varroa entering WA through traffic on the east-west freight link or through swarms of feral bees, and the state was not prepared.

“We had a national blitz where we encouraged beekeepers all over the nation to do alcohol washes, which is the primary detection tool to look for varroa, and unfortunately the uptake in WA was relatively poor … I think it’s complacency,” he said.

“We are pleading with WA beekeepers to do the minimum.

Varroa mite was first detected in Australian in June last year. (ABC Great Southern: Sophie Johnson)

“Time is ticking … the risk is growing, and we really need people to get serious about biosecurity, because otherwise we may find ourselves in a similar situation to NSW where we are scrambling to try and get on top of this pest. ”

Mr Cernotta said he supported eradication attempts continuing in NSW.

“I’d be lying if I said we didn’t have extreme levels of anxiety, because there is nothing we can do other than sit and watch,” he said.

“It’s devastating to see beekeepers facing [hive destruction], but the reality is they’re taking a hit for the rest of the nation’s beekeepers.”

Moving forward with varroa

Kim Fewster has been in the honey industry for 50 years, selling into a range of international markets…

To read the complete article go to; WA honey industry fears biosecurity ‘complacency’ has left state ill-prepared for a varroa mite outbreak – ABC News

We are here to share current happenings in the bee industry. Bee Culture gathers and shares articles published by outside sources. For more information about this specific article, please visit the original publish source: WA honey industry fears biosecurity ‘complacency’ has left state ill-prepared for a varroa mite outbreak – ABC News

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