NSW winning fight against bee-killing mite

November 03, 2022 11:09 AM AEDT | By AAPNEWS
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Detections of the varroa mite in NSW have dropped to one a fortnight, raising hopes the state can become the first jurisdiction in the world to eradicate the deadly parasite that's forced the destruction of millions of bees.

More than 13,000 bee hives have been euthanised since the mite was first found in sentinel hives at the Port of Newcastle in June.

Cases were jumping by the dozen every week but only three have been uncovered in the past six weeks.

"(It) shows we are getting on top of the situation," NSW Agriculture Minister Dugald Saunders said on Thursday.

"But now is not the time for complacency and we know the job is not done until we eradicate this pest."

Almost 2000 people have been involved in the effort to stop the mite's incursion into Australia.

Failing could cost the honey industry $70 million a year and devastate one-third of Australia's food industry that relies on bees for pollination.

In Australia, the value of honey bees providing pollination services to agricultural industries is valued at $14.2 billion.

NSW had an estimated 315,100 bee hives before the mite was detected.

About one-in-three hives have been sampled by authorities or beekeepers, the government says.

"The honey bee industry is indebted to all the personnel involved in the response," Australian Honey Bee Industry Council chief executive Danny Le Feuvre said in a statement.

"Protecting the critical honey bee industry is protecting our food supply."

The varroa mite mainly feeds and reproduces on larvae and pupae, causing malformation and weakening of honey bees as well as transmitting numerous viruses.

Mite infestations can build up over several years to cause crippled and crawling honey bees, impaired flight performance, a lower rate of return to the colony after foraging and ultimately death of the colony, the industry website BeeAware says. 


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