VARROA MITE: Response to transition to management

As of 19 September 2023, the National Management Group (NMG) as peak decision body for the National Varroa mite Emergency Response has reached a decision to shift the focus of the response from eradication to transitioning to management of Varroa Mite.

This is disappointing after 15 months of hard work by NSW DPI and all involved in the response, but further detections and spread into national parks and the Sydney area, combined with a lack of compliance and diminishing social license for the response activities, meant that it became impossible to keep ahead of the spread of the pest.

The aim of the transition to a management program is to work to increase resilience and capacity to manage Varroa mite within the Australian honey bee industry and thereby minimise ongoing impacts of Varroa mite naturalisation on the bee industry and pollination-reliant industries. This will occur through slowing the spread, building industry resilience, providing management options and supporting pollination security.

The transition to a management program is still being developed, and once agreed will be in place for at least 12 months. In the interim, mandatory euthanasia of hives has ended, and most of the emergency and surveillance zones (red and purple) have transitioned to ‘suppression zones’ (same as the general blue zone previously) with the exception of Newcastle, Kempsey and the Central Coast red zones which become ‘management zones’ where hives will be treated with miticide and monitored.

In suppression zones hive movements will be allowed following surveillance and completion of a hive movement declaration.

In the management zones hive testing is to continue and must be reported to NSW DPI. Beekeepers will be supplied with miticide strips for suppression in these zones. Hives can be moved within the management zones.

Berries Australia will keep you informed as more details of the transition to management become available, particularly in regard to detections outside of NSW.