Thursday, June 27, 2024


Mackay and Whitsunday Life

Fight Stepped Up Against Varroa Mite

Queensland is intensifying its battle against Varroa destructor by employing six Varroa Development Officers (VDOs), an Extension and Engagement Coordinator, and establishing new surveillance hives for early pest detection.

While varroa mite Varroa destructor has not yet been detected in Queensland, it is currently in New South Wales and the State Government has identified that Queensland needs to be prepared for this pest.

The varroa mite is an insidious pest that poses a significant biosecurity threat to the common European honeybees whose pollination services add an estimated $14.2 billion to the Australian agricultural and horticultural industries each year.

Following the endorsement of the National Varroa Mite Response Plan earlier this year, Queensland along with other states and territories has shifted from attempting to eradicate varroa mite to managing it.

The newly advertised VDO positions will educate and support beekeepers on integrated pest management (IPM) techniques and offer practical support during the transition. Working closely with individual beekeepers and beekeeping clubs, the VDOs will provide hands-on assistance to build skills, understanding and resilience.

This approach aims to mitigate the impact of Varroa destructor on Queensland's beekeeping and pollination-reliant industries when it inevitably arrives.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities Mark Furner said that Queensland is intensifying its efforts against varroa mite by appointing six Varroa Development Officers (VDOs) and delivering 19 workshops across the state over the next 12 months.

"We have joined with other states and territories in shifting our focus from eradication to management of varroa mite and will continue to safeguard Queensland's valuable honeybee industry and recreational beekeeping sector from this pest,” Minister Furner said.

Additionally, 19 workshops will be conducted for both commercial and recreational beekeepers. These workshops will focus on enhancing skills in detecting, monitoring, reporting and managing varroa mite for the long term.

"Biosecurity zone provisions under the Biosecurity Act 2014 restricts the movement of bees and bee related equipment into Queensland from a state or territory where varroa mite has been detected,” Minister Furner added.

"Through comprehensive training and practical support, we are fostering a more resilient and well-informed beekeeping community.”

Customised resources for Queensland’s beekeeping industry will be made available online free of charge.

Biosecurity Queensland is also enhancing surveillance along the Queensland-New South Wales border, focusing on the Gold Coast region and high-risk areas of Stanthorpe and Warwick, where pollination events are anticipated in early spring.

To provide early warning for Varro destructor in Queensland, 18 sentinel hives have been established in these key locations.

"This initiative is crucial for protecting our beekeeping and pollination sectors, which play a vital role in the agricultural success of Queensland,” the Minister said.

"It is crucial to continue protecting Queensland's bees, which in turn supports the sustainability of pollination-dependent industries.”

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