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Completed project

A model for industry planning and preparedness for an incursion of Varroa mite (MT12049)

Key research provider: Plant Health Australia
Publication date: Monday, November 16, 2015

What was it all about?

This project tested the preparedness of Australia’s pollination dependent industries for an incursion of the exotic bee pest, Varroa destructor, through a national review and simulation workshop, called Acari.

Varroa mite is an external parasitic mite that, without intervention including treatment programs and ongoing management, has the ability to kill entire honey bee colonies in two to three years. Australia is the last major honey-producing country in the world to not have Varroa, but elsewhere the spread of Varroa destructor has had a significant negative effect on bee numbers, particularly feral bees in the wild.

This project funded a literature review and a workshop to scope the potential impact that an incursion of Varroa destructor would have on pollination-dependent crop producers.

The outcome of both activities identified that trucking honey bee hives over large distances to pollinate orchards as a considerable risk to business continuity in the event of Varroa mite entering the country. The likely movement restrictions implemented to respond and manage the pest would result in many pollination-dependent crop producers not having access to pollination services.

Nonetheless, Australia has effective response arrangements in place under the Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed, and these were tested as part of Workshop Acari activities.

Early detection and the implementation of honey bee hive movement controls were highlighted as important response options. The team recommended supporting and improving the National Bee Pest Surveillance Program to increase the likelihood of detecting an incursion of Varroa mite early to give the best chance of eradicating it.


Read the Acari workshop report on the Plant Health Australia website



Funding statement:
This project has been funded by Hort Innovation

Copyright © Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited 2015. The Final Research Report (in part or as whole) cannot be reproduced, published, communicated or adapted without the prior written consent of Hort Innovation (except as may be permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth)).