Varroa mite detected on Asian Honey Bee in Townsville
An Asian honey (Apis cerana) bee hive has been found at the port in Townsville, Queensland. Scientific analysis of the bees has confirmed that two varroa mites (Varroa jacobsoni) were present on two of the bees.
The single hive was found within the hollow metal support of a container stand which has been in a storage yard close to the port for at least two years.
Biosecurity staff from the Australian Government removed the hive and sent it for further diagnostic testing and analysis. A total of around 5000 bees were collected and removed from the site.
A bee industry expert has been consulted and, after inspecting the hive, was able to advise that it is likely that it is possible that the hive had been there for up to two years.
A check of the surrounding area has found no further Asian honey bees or their hives. Traps and sentinel hives that are already in place around the port as part of the National Bee Pest Surveillance Program have not collected any exotic bees or mite pests over the past two years.
Testing will be done to see if these bees have any relationship to the Asian honey bee that is already present in areas of Far North Queensland, or bees that were associated with previous detections at the Townsville port – with the last detection having occurred in 2014.
The Varroa jacobsoni mites detected in Townsville was on Asian honey bees. It is currently believed that these forms of varroa mites do not readily transfer between host species; that is it does not readily move to European honey bees.
Australia has well established arrangements in place for responding to exotic pests, such as varroa. This is a nationally significant pest that will see all efforts put in place to prevent it from establishing in Australia.