There has been an infestation of Varroa mites across New South Wales. The bee parasite has been detected 43 times since the initial case in the Port of Newcastle in June and now another infestation has been detected in Nana Glen. Beekeepers on the NSW Mid North Coast are preparing to destroy their hives after the detection of Varroa mites in hives at a blueberry farm.
If the hives aren't destroyed, the mite infestation will have a detrimental impact on the agriculture industry, affecting the pollination of blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, avocados and macadamias in the region until the end of September.
What are Varroa mites?
Varroa mites are tiny red brown pests that affect honey bees, with the females measuring around 1.1mm long while the males are slightly smaller. They can feed on adult honey bees as well as larvae and pupae in the bee colony, transmitting viruses and causing malformation and weakening of the honey bees. The mites are spread by drone bees who are infected and then move the mites from hive to hive. They are then transferred through contact between bees.
According to Plant Health Australia, heavy Varroa mite infestations can cause scattered brood, crippled and crawling honey bees, a reduction in honey bee population and ultimate colony breakdown and death of the hive. Beekeepers should be on alert and should inspect their hives regularly for signs of Varroa mites.
Some examples of detection methods that beekeepers can use include:
Beekeepers must report notifiable diseases such as an infestation of Varroa mites to the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.
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