Varroa mite update 14/11/17

Varroa mite program enters third stage

The below is a varroa mite email update from the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, written on 14 November 2017 by Steve Anderson, Program Leader, National Varroa Mite Eradication Program, Biosecurity Queensland.

The National Varroa Mite Eradication Program, which was implemented in response to a detection of varroa mites (Varroa jacobsoni) in Townsville in June 2016, has entered into the third stage of the response – proof of area freedom. If there are no further detections of varroa mite, the program will be on track for the official declaration of eradication from Australia and the reinstatement of area freedom for the Townsville local government area in September 2019.

Until then, the program will concentrate on surveillance activities and community engagement as the hunt for varroa mite continues. If varroa mites or Asian honey bees are still present in the Townsville area, it is essential for the success of the program that they are found and destroyed. With bee activity on the increase in the warmer summer months, we are ramping up calls for the general public to report unusual bee activity and feral nests. We are also undertaking balloon surveillance around the Port of Townsville.

This transition could not have been achieved without the support of the honey bee industry at a national, state and local level, the Townsville beekeeping community and the wider public at large, who have been enthusiastic and cooperative throughout the program.

In particular the Townsville and District Beekeeping Association has been a constant source of assistance and information and have always been willing to assist with a range of activities – including sticky mat testing, other hive testing at more than 50 sites throughout Townsville, swarm reporting and sampling, and are always welcoming to members of the team at their regular meetings. Thank you for your continued assistance!

For those of you who are interested in how this response has tracked, the following timeline should be of interest:

27 June 2016 – 31 August 2016 – Response Phase

1 September 2016 – 28 February 2016 – Eradication Phase

1 March 2017 – 31 August 2019 – Proof of Area Freedom

Movement controls still in force

It’s important to note that, although there have been no varroa mites found since July 2016, movement controls remain in force until area freedom is declared. This means that no beehives, live bees or parts of beehives containing live bees or larvae, can be moved outside the Townsville City Council local government area without appropriate approvals. These should be obtained from Biosecurity Queensland at least seven days before the proposed movement. Contact 13 25 23 or email for more information.

Anyone moving live bees through the Townsville City Council area must ensure that bees are packaged and sealed in a manner that prevents the escape of live bees while they transit through the area.

We are also asking the transport industry to continue to “watch their load” on their planes, trains and automobiles (and boats) to make sure there are no rogue nests hitching a ride.

Praise for the Varroa mite team

Our National Varroa Mite Eradication Program team based in Townsville remains dedicated to the job at hand. They recently received a Department of Agriculture and Fisheries achievement award for their efforts, and it is a well-deserved accolade.

We are fortunate to have a team which includes a highly experienced entomologist, two experienced beekeepers and others with a great wealth of experience they have brought to the task. As the summer brings more difficult conditions for surveillance, I am sure the team will maintain their positive attitude and continue to work with industry and the wider community as we strive for area freedom.


Information and photos that can help you identify Asian honey bees and varroa mite are available at and general information can be found on the DAF website.


Author: QDAF
Date Published: 24/11/2017