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Varroa Jacobsoni - first appearance in Fiji Oct18 and spread

After recent international family visits over the holidays, I managed to get my brother (New York) and my father (Fiji) almost as obsessed with beekeeping as I am. I took them along to ABA events and had them help me with inspections over their month with me. So they were both keen to to start the process of obtaining Flow Hives!! Which was my goal all along of course.

My brother returned to Fiji en route to New York with my father and they immediately started contacting local apiaries there to source a hive and eventually a NUC.

Unfortunately, they were informed that the Varroa Jacobsoni had just been reported and the Biosecurity Authority had asked that all new Apiary setups hold off until further notice. It is suspected the Varroa arrived in a shipping container which must have contained beehive paraphernalia.

The reason i’m sharing is the amazing speed with which the infestation spread. The first reported identification was in a suburb of Suva, and actually only a few hundred metres from the family home on the 30th of October 2018. Note the picture in the middle of the red circle in Pic 1.

Have a look at the reported infestations that follow in each of the follow up report links on the site: https://www.oie.int/wahis_2/public/wahid.php/Reviewreport/Review?page_refer=MapFullEventReport&reportid=28559

The multiple reports in Follow up report 1 shows that the infestation spread within 2 weeks (sorry for the crude google maps copy) :

Within 4 weeks from infection date, it had covered half of the main island, with outbreak reports seeming to average 3 per report.

Then just shy of 8 weeks from identification and 9 outbreak reports on Christmas eve, the spread hadn’t moved any further but had obviously become more concentrated.

The last report from Bio-security Authority Inspectors appears to show the varroa jump across to the second largest island with multiple infestations around the main port city of Labasa, so they must have come in on one of the ships from the main island. There had been a small spread North West as well.

A few remarkable points really, the speed with which it spreads (although the infestation may have been unnoticed by the keepers as they wouldn’t have been looking for them) and also the fact that there are so many apiaries in Fiji.

Thankfully, due to the shutdown of new setups and restrictions on movement, perhaps they can limit it from outlying islands. Although, that would be very tough to police. The small avatar up on the North West corner of the map is our ancestral family island where my brother is before returning to the US, and the apiary attached to a resort near our village is unaffected and very busy… however, with daily shuttles and cargo vessels heading out from the main island… i wonder how long that will last


So Fiji has Apis cerana, the Asian honey bees then?

all the Epidemiological notes appear to refer to Apis mellifera. Where do you see reference to Cerana?

EDIT: ah, V. Jacobsoni only seems to affect Cerana. Thanks google. Not sure, they must be identifying the bee or varroa species incorrectly?!

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Oh no :scream: It’s spreading so quickly :confounded:

From the report: https://www.oie.int/wahis_2/public/wahid.php/Reviewreport/Review?reportid=29346

Epidemiological comments Since 30 October 2018, further surveillance has been conducted and this has resulted in further detection of varroa mite infestations in Western honey bee (Apis mellifera). A total of twenty six beehives from nine apiaries were found to be infested with Varroa mites during surveillance from 15 January 2019 to 28 January 2019. Reminder of the beehives turned negative for varroa mites during this period. Areas infested with varroa mites are being chemically treated with Fluvalinate. Zoning applied to demarcate the varroa infested area. Communication and awareness activities within the community, apiculture industry and key stakeholders are being conducted along with extensive surveillance.

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Re: Jacobsonii vs destructor, it has been found in the last few years that a sub-species of jacobsonii has evolved to jump from a cerana host to mellifera in Papua New Guinea, so the authorities have good reason to be really concerned. This is the main reason why Australia is no longer permitted to export bees to the USA. So they are exported to Canada instead and then trucked down to California (go figure).