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Varroa found at port of Townsville, in Qld Australia

19 June 2019

Suspect varroa mites detected at Townsville Port

Suspect varroa mites have been detected on an Asian honey bee nest that was recently found and destroyed at the Port of Townsville.

The nest was located on 16 May 2019 as a result of bee lining activities where foraging bees are tracked.

The suspect mites were sent to the CSIRO’s laboratory in Canberra for identification to species level, with initial results indicating Varroa jacobsoni.

A national eradication program has been in place since the detection of varroa mite on Asian honey bees at the Port of Townsville in June 2016. No Asian honey bees associated with the 2016 detection have been found since November 2016.

Genetic testing of bee material from the May 2019 detection at the Port indicates this is a new incident, with these Asian honey bees likely to have arrived recently from Papua New Guinea (PNG) or the Solomon Islands.

The Asian honey bee is approximately 10mm long with yellow and black stripes on the abdomen. Heightened surveillance continues around Townsville Port and within a 15-kilometre radius.

Port and transport workers are encouraged to be on the look-out and report suspect bees that may have come in on cargo via the See. Secure. Report hotline on 1800 798 636.

The general public can report Asian honey bee detections to the national Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881 .

Townsville bee keepers are asked to be especially vigilant in reporting any suspect Asian honey bee sightings and/or varroa mite detections.

Information about bee biosecurity and photos that will help identify varroa mite are available on the Bee Aware website at beeaware.org.au or the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries website.

I did this as a cut and paste warning I got only a few minutes ago after verifying where it came from, the Qld Dept of Agriculture.

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Frightening isn’t it.
However the inevitability of its presence in Australia is only a matter of time if the TV program on border security is anything to go by. How people lie, cheat, hide and do everything imaginable to bring food stuff, and all its associated bugs and rubbish, into Australia.


I am guessing I got the warning because I am registered with the Qld Dept of Agriculture as a bee keeper, but it is a worry how many haven’t done the right thing and have a hive or two and will not be aware of the arrival of Varroa in Townsville!! I have sort of ignored the articles and posts on varroa Mites but I will have some fast reading to do and wonder at a supply of treatments and gear available in bee keeping suppliers here in Australia, suddenly I think we are ill-prepared about our near future problems.

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It seems that while we love international trade among other countries it does have it’s serious down sides. I hope this is squelched before it spreads. So sad.


Thank you Peter for that update… so sad that people are like that.


However folks, hold your horses here, please. :blush:

This is Varroa jacobsoni. Yes, not good. But far worse is the subspecies which infests the US and Europe - Varroa destructor.

No type of Varroa is a good thing, but destructor is well-named. You have been warned. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:


So glad you caught that! Just the word Varroa gives me chills though I deal with it here in Tennessee.


Varroa Destructor I figure will at some time become an issue here. The bio security here is only as good as as the people involved it it. I worry that in time might become immune to the treatments that we have now. We need to make a big border fence to keep the buggers out :grinning:

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Probably get a good price to build from “Trump Fencing Inc.” :crazy_face:


Personally I think our bio security team is doing a great job and really appreciate their determination and dedication. We are surrounded by varroa D yet it hasn’t and hopefully will never reach our shores.
Does varroa J impact on the western honey bee?

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Varroa D has arrived in Australia in the Port of Melbourne earlier this year but it was contained.
From what I have read Varroa J can easily transfer to honey bees according to the Qld Dept of
Agriculture. The Port of Melbourne find was the lead story on the TV news here for a few days. I’m not knocking the effort put in my bio security but with hundreds of containers turning up and unloaded daily at each of our ports of entry it would be a lot to expect that nothing can get past them.


I saw this same message on a Facebook beekeeping group a few weeks ago but was unable to find anything to verify it online from either NT or QLD govt departments. I could find reference to the 2016 event though. I was suspicious that it may be a hoax.

Are you able to clarify: did you receive it directly from Qld agriculture?

Am I right that this is a different type of Varroa to the species causing havoc in other continents?


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I got the email direct from the Qld dept of Agriculture so I have no doubt that it factual.
The Varroa strain is not the Varroa Destructor that has decimated Europe and North America, from what I have read it is a strain that originated in SE Asia and seems not to be as harmful to bees but so far I’m not finding a lot of information about that strain. As it arrived in Townsville I guess any info will be from Qld sites, as of reading this morning it seems to be contained within 15 klms of the Port of Townsville so here is hoping. Being a large city in population and area they might stand a chance of eradicating it.
Cheers Ally, Peter

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There is another more insidious side to this, some years back it was discovered that the varroa jacobsonii in Papua had managed to successfully jump hosts from cerana to mellifera, so whilst many people are happy to say we are all OK here in Oz, I personally think we are in serious trouble if we relax in dealing with this mite. This particular variant from the asian continent has not yet jumped hosts, but considering it is very closely related to the jacobsonii in Papua, its only a matter of time. Then Mellifera will have 2 x species of varroa to deal with, imagine what that will do to the Winter-Die-Offs in Europe and the America’s should it find its way there too.


This link you might find interesting and worth a read. I can well think that the Varroa J could easily transfer to the Mellifera honey bee from the Asian honey bee. Nature has already done that short step many times between other animals.
Cheers Rod.

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Well better start planning on the purchase of oxcillic acid and a method of delivering treatments. Though I hope y’all have diverted the threat.

Just an update, I sent an email last Thursday night to the Queensland Dept of Agriculture and this morning (Monday) I got a reply back which confirms that there was found an unloaded a container that had a colony of bees with varroa jacobsonii in it.
The emails says that the Dept sent an email to all registered bee keepers throughout Queensland, it also says that there is to be no movement of hives and bees within 15 klms of the Port of Townsville.
It is strange that the media has not picked up on this as all the more eyes the better I would think.
Cheers, Peter

Well the hives may not move but the bees fly and try to rob other bees. I had the Italians vs the Ferals battle of the honey last summer.So the hive movement doesn’t make sense to me.

I think it is about stopping the spread of the disease as much as they can. The more the varroa is quarantined and contained into a small area the easier it should be to manage the problem.
Cheers Martha, Peter

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I agree but I also have wondered on several occasions where else the varroa might hibernate or some other method of survival. I also wonder if there are other hosts to the varroa. I’ve not seen any articles since the focus has been on bees. I’m just mulling over all these ways the spread happens. :smiley: