Varoa in newcastle

Here is a copy of the official note from The NSW Department of Primary Industry

Varroa mite detected in beehives at the Port of Newcastle

25 June 2022

Re: Biosecurity (Varroa Mite) Emergency Order 2022 under the NSW
Biosecurity Act 2015
NSW Department of Primary Industries surveillance this week detected Varroa mite
(V. Destructor) in biosecurity surveillance hives at the Port of Newcastle.
An emergency eradication program was immediately initiated and announced by the
Minister for Agriculture Dugald Saunders yesterday, once molecular testing had
confirmed the species identification.

A biosecurity control order was also put in place, banning the movement of hives
within a 50km radius of the infestation site and requiring beekeepers to report the
location of any hives within that zone.
NSW DPI has been working with apiary industry bodies and stakeholders since the
detection was first identified to ensure beekeepers are informed and empowered to
be part of this critical response.
This email is to further update all registered beekeepers of developments and what
is required under the Control Order.
Varroa mite biosecurity zone and what to do
Within the biosecurity zone:
no hives or bees can be moved
no honey or comb can be removed from hives
hives must not be tampered with unless directed by a NSW DPI officer
Beekeepers must also let NSW DPI know the location of all hives within the zone

completing the Report a biosecurity concern form;
emailing [email protected]; or,
calling the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline, 1800 084 881 (9 am to 5 pm, 7 days a

The eradication plan includes treatment of beehives within a 10 km emergency zone
around the infestation and inspection of managed and feral honey bee colonies
within 25km.
To check if your hives are within the biosecurity zone, visit and use the address finder on the interactive map.

Hives outside the biosecurity zone
If you have hives outside the 50 km biosecurity zone, please continue to inspect
them for signs of varroa mite or other pests, such as small hive beetle or American
Foul Brood, and report any concerns using the contact options listed above.
Varroa mites are tiny reddish-brown parasites and individual mites can easily be
seen with the naked eye.
NSW DPI thanks beekeepers for working side-by-side with government as part of
Australia’s early warning system to detect exotic honey bee pests, and the National
Bee Pest Surveillance Program, which includes surveillance hives and catch boxes
at strategic locations around our ports and airports.
Australia is the only major honey producing country free from varroa mite. If varroa
mite establishes here it could cost Australia’s honey industry more than $70 million
a year and adversely impact multibillion-dollar plant industries, which rely on bee

NSW DPI has more resources available via the following links:
Varroa mite
Hive inspection techniques

Biosecurity and Food Safety
Locked Bag 21, Orange NSW 2800
NSW Department of Primary Industry

Additional Information from the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council

General Emergency Zone across NSW

27 JUNE 2022

On Wednesday the 22nd June an initial detection of Varroa mite was found in sentinel hives at the port of Newcastle. A second confirmed detection in a commercial load of bees occurred within 10km on Saturday 25th June.

These have been the ONLY detections so far. There has been no further detections outside of the 10km eradication zone.

Due to the second detection being in commercial hives, DPI have been swift in conducting tracing activities to determine the locations of any hives connected to the commercial operation. The resulting tracing has determined that there are hives connected to the operation outside of the 50km emergency zone.

In consultation state counterparts, the almond industry and AHBIC, the Incident Controller and Chief Plant Officer signed the stand still order which came into effect this evening. The order means the following:-

  • Hives must not be moved if they are in the state of NSW regardless if NSW is not their residence.
  • Hives must not be ‘tampered’ with, meaning hives can not be worked, extracted or have supers put on.
  • There is an exemption for conducting surveillance including sugar shake and alcohol washes.

The intent of the order is to allow time for the department to trace hive movements and determine the locations of any ‘at risk’ hives outside of the 50km zone.

This is a biosecurity order and the penalties for disregarding this order are huge, police are aware and patrolling. Please be patient. This is for the long term benefit of our industry.

Sugar shake and alcohol washes can be undertaken on any hives during this order. If mites are detected in your surveillance ring the hotline on 1800 084 881 .


Some interesting information posted on the Facebook Backyard Bees site.
There has been a lot of finger pointing going as to who is blamed and why varroa wasn’t found earlier in the DPI Newcastle sentinel hives.
It is worth reflecting on the time lines associated with the spread of varroa and the time taken for it to build up enough numbers for it to be detected.
Let’s say that an infected swarm arrives on day 1 and takes up residence in a tree hollow near the port.
Then a single infected worker shares a single female varroa with a worker from one of the sentinel hives.
Then on the same day (day 1) the single female enters a brood cell and lays a male and 4 female eggs. These eggs take 3 weeks to hatch (day 22) and 4 males and 16 females emerge. This assumes 100% breeding success and that the bees don’t terminate the brood cycle of any infected larvae.
Now on day 22, the cycle is repeated. Day 43, 64 (16x4) females emerge. Still only 64 and they go hiding in the brood cells. Even IF all 64 were on adult bees the chances of detecting them inna sugar shake test would be extremely unlikely.
Now on day 64, 256 (64x4) female varroa emerge. Again it would be difficult to find any varroa. 256 out of 20-30k bees would take some finding, especially as many will be in cells under larvae and not on adult bees.
Day 85, 1,024 (256x4).
Day 106, 4,096 (1,924x4)
Day 127, 10k
This all assumes that varroa are only in worker brood cell and that they are immediately mature enough to mate upon emergence, which is reality is not accurate as varroa prefer drone brood which would slow down each breeding cycle by 3-4 days.
So, my guess is that varroa would only be detected by a sugar or alcohol shake after at least 120 days, 4 months from the original incursion. A droon brood test might detect the varroa earlier, but probably would still take 60-90 days to detect.
So as BK’s we shouldn’t be too quick to judge and point blame at the DPI, as varroa could have been here for up to 6 months, especially if it took a few months for the DPI’s sentinel to be infected by the original hive.