National Varroa Mite Eradication Program

Varroa mites found in Townsville

Biosecurity Queensland officers working as part of the National Varroa Mite Eradication Program (NVMEP) are responding to an incursion of varroa mite (Varroa jacobsoni) found on a nest of feral Asian honey bees at the Port of Townsville on 28 April 2020.

Restrictions apply to the movement of live bees within the Townsville area. Please refer to the Prevention and Control Program (PDF, 3.68MB) and the map of the affected area (PDF, 366KB).

Report sightings of Asian honey bees or feral bee nests in Townsville to 13 25 23.

The National Varroa Mite Eradication Program was established in Townsville in 2016, when a nest of Asian honey bee (Apis cerana Java genotype) infested with Varroa jacobsoni mites was found at the Port of Townsville. The program is led by Biosecurity Queensland and is nationally funded through a partnership between industry, the Australian Government and all state and territory governments.

The program aims to eradicate Varroa jacobsoni and minimise the impacts of the outbreak on affected businesses, communities and ancillary industries.

Extensive surveillance and monitoring activities were conducted as part of the program to ensure the mite had not spread. These included; floral sweeping, aerial pheromone trapping, catch box assessments, bee lining, managed hive surveillance, investigating public reports of suspected Asian honey bee and examining rainbow bee eater pellets for the presence of wings.

While a 2016 incursion has been eradicated, new incursions of Varroa jacobsoni were detected on Asian honey bee nests at the Port of Townsville in May 2019 and April 2020.

Genetic testing determined the detections were unrelated to each other, or any other recorded Australian incident of Asian honey bees. As of 1 May 2021 the program has ceased all operational surveillance activity and has moved into a stand-down phase pending formal declaration of eradication by the National Management Group.

Two legislated biosecurity programs established under the Biosecurity Act 2014 support the NVMEP eradication activities:

These programs will run until June 2021.