As part of the Queensland’s surveillance activities in response to the detection of varroa mite at the port of Townsville, one feral Asian honey bee hive was located on 17 June, in the backyard of a property in Annandale. This property is about 9 km south-west of the port of Townsville, where Asian honey bees were found with varroa mites.
The hive found at Annandale was in a wooden bird box and had been present for approximately one month. The hive was destroyed and the bees confirmed as Asian honey bee. Varroa mite was found in the comb. Genetic testing is underway to determine if these Asian honey bees are related to the ones found at the Townsville port in June.
While Asian honey bees have been established in parts of Far North Queensland centred around Cairns for some years, varroa mites are not known to be present in this population.
The varroa mites detected have been confirmed as Varroa jacobsoni. It is currently believed that these forms of varroa mites do not readily transfer between host species – that is, if the mite is found on Asian honey bees, it does not readily move to European honey bees like the varroa destructor mite.
Biosecurity Queensland is looking at increasing surveillance activity in the area of the second detection, and is also seeking advice from the Scientific Advisory Panel on whether the 10km movement control area should be expanded.
If you know of feral bee hives in the Townsville area, or see Asian honey bees or suspect your bees have been affected, call Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23. Amateur beekeepers in the area also need to contact Biosecurity Queensland to arrange for their hives to be inspected. There will be no fee for this inspection service.
Information about bee biosecurity, hive care, and photos that will help you identify varroa mite is available at the Bee Aware website here.
The Movement Control Order with information about restrictions on the movement of bee hives, bees, bee products (excluding honey), and used bee keeping equipment from the Townsville area is available here.
Posted 21 July 2016