Varroa Mite Discovery

Varroa mite detected at Port of Melbourne on a ship from United States

A deadly mite, which could decimate Australia’s bee population, has been detected in Victoria.

A bee colony infested with the varroa mite was detected on Wednesday, June 27, at the Port of Melbourne on a ship from the United States.

Australia is one of the last remaining countries in the world to be free of the blood-sucking mite, which has already devastated bee colonies in New Zealand, the United States, and Europe.

Agriculture Victoria’s chief health plant officer Nigel Ainsworth said the master of the ship reported seeing dead bees on the ship, which was immediately investigated by Agriculture Victoria and the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) upon docking at the Port of Melbourne.

A colony was found in a wooden crate and tests revealed some bees were infested with the varroa mite.

Mr Ainsworth said the colony was destroyed and Agriculture Victoria was “confident” the situation was contained to the single colony.

He said three other wooden crates on the ship from Texas had also been secured.

Mr Ainsworth said cold weather conditions meant the bees were “lethargic” and “pretty unlikely” to have flown beyond the ship.

Laboratory tests of the established sentinel hives at the port returned negative readings for varroa.

As a precaution, more sentinel hives have been installed and floral sweep netting has been undertaken within the port precinct and the adjacent parkland.

Biosecurity officers are also inspecting gardens within a two-kilometre radius of the port. …