Yes, everyone is talking about Varroa.
We are two weeks into the Varroa Mite incursion centred around the Port of Newcastle. Varroa Mites are the most severe pest of honeybees worldwide. Varroa infects honeybees on every continent except Australia. That is why there is such a government and industry effort to eradicate the Newcastle incursion.
If Varroa Spreads.
If the Varroa spreads in Australia, it will change beekeeping practices for commercial and recreational beekeepers. Varroa, if left untreated, will kill a colony. All feral and untreated beehives will die. There are significant costs in material and labour in Varroa management.
Difficult to Detect.
Varroa in beehives can be difficult to detect when at low numbers. Individual mites are flat and brown, about 1.1mm long and 1.7mm wide. You are looking for a tiny bug that lives on a small bug in a colony of thousands.
Fight the Mite.
The Varroa can be detected in a beehive. There are three common methods used to test for the presence of mites. Sugar Shake, Alcohol Wash and Drone Uncapping are methods used to test for the presence of Varroa Mites. Out of the three, I recommend the Alcohol Wash as efficient and accurate.
The current Varroa incursion is of concern. Yet, beekeepers can use these uncertain times to increase their awareness of Varroa Mite. Our updated beekeeper Spring training events include Varroa Mite surveillance and detection methods.
Try the NSW Dept Primary Industries 2022 fact sheet.