Varroa mite 2018 detection

Agriculture Victoria’s Varroa mite surveillance concluded 6 weeks after the bee parasite was detected in cargo at the Port of Melbourne in June 2018.

The State Quarantine Response Team, comprising of members of the beekeeping community, worked alongside Agriculture Victoria’s Incident Management Team (IMT) to conduct bee hive surveillance after the detection.

The team successfully conducted 4 rounds of surveillance in every known hive within a 2 kilometre radius of the Port of Melbourne detection.

Long-term sentinel hives continue to be monitored as part of the National Bee Pest Surveillance Program at high-risk locations:

  • Port of Melbourne
  • Geelong
  • Portland
  • Hastings.

Beekeepers are reminded to:

If you see or suspect varroa, you must notify us by calling the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.

[Vision: Photographs of biosecurity staff inspecting beehives – view of bees in hive – photograph of various people in biosecurity]

Many people have a role to play in biosecurity.

[Vision: Bee emerging out of hive and bees entering hive – photograph of biosecurity people – cargo ship and aeroplane landing]

A recent detection shows how good biosecurity teamwork protects markets and products that are part of our everyday lives.

[Slide: Varroa Mite Detection 2018 – Agriculture Victoria]

[Vision: Photograph of various people in biosecurity – close-up view of bee showing the parasite on its back – photograph of cargo ship in port]

Agriculture Victoria formed an Incident Management Team after Varroa mite, a parasite of bees, was detected in some cargo on a ship at the Port of Melbourne in late June 2018.

[Vision: Vic Country Hour ABC radio sound]

How serious is this?

Nigel Ainsworth – Acting Chief Plant Health Officer, Agriculture Victoria:

Well, if it were to become established in Australia it would be extremely serious for the honey bee industry and the industries that rely on honey bee pollination.

[Vision: Varroa mite on bees – staff checking hives – Port of Melbourne showing a cargo ship]

But at this stage it’s just the detection of one colony at the Port, and we are pretty confident that that’s all it is, it’s one colony which is now dead.

[Vision: Bees entering beehive]

Doug Purdy – Urban Beehive – ABC News Breakfast:

In some ways we’re lucky Victoria has a very, very good system for dealing with these things.

So the inspectors have gone through and made sure that there’s no live bees on the ship, and as far as they can tell no live bees have left the ship.

[Vision: Staff putting on protective clothing before then inspecting he hives]

Agriculture Victoria staff and trained industry professionals from the State Quarantine Response Team, tested every known hive within a two kilometre radius of the detection point over four rounds of surveillance.

Each hive was examined.

Sticky mats were put in place.

The sugar shake test was applied.

And samples were taken away for analysis.

The public, beekeepers in the area, and industry were all very happy to contribute.

Benedict Hughes – Team Member, State Quarantine Response Team:

Well I guess it’s giving something back to the industry and protecting, you know, the good healthy industry that we have.

You know we’re very fortunate in Australia so we want to try and protect that and yeah, keep Varroa mite out if we can.

Von – Affected Beekeeper, Yarraville:

So we understand, because we’re so close to the Port of Melbourne, we understand the risk of bees coming in to the countries through the ports, and the ports have their own hives that they check regularly.

So we kind of know that if it’s going to come in through the ports we’re probably one of the next ones to get hit because we’re so close.

So that’s why I was so impressed that we’ve got the phone call so quickly because we’ve registered our bees and they obviously know where they are and how close they are.

Rosa Crnov – Chief Plant Health Officer, Agriculture Victoria:

The good news is we haven’t detected Varroa despite doing intensive surveillance around the Port of Melbourne two kilometre zone, inspecting all sentinel hives, all known beehives.

And we also destroyed a couple of virile hives, so that’s a really great outcome, and that wouldn’t have been possible without support of Peter, other industry members, beekeepers and the community.

[Vision: Photographs of biosecurity staff members]

[Agriculture Victoria]

[The Victorian Connection – for more news and stories go to The Victorian Connection –]

Speaker: Authorised by the Victorian Government, 1 Treasury Place, Melbourne]

Page last updated: 19 Mar 2024