Varroa in Queensland

varro3It has been suggested that the Varroa jacobsoni in Townsville is the one that is on Apis mellifera in Papua New Guinea. This is not the case. The V.jacobsoni in Townsville is the one from the Asian bee, Apis cerana. Expert advice received is that this mite will not reproduce on A.mellifera in the short term in Australia. From the experience in Papua New Guinea there are grounds to believe that if the A.cerana in Townsville was not eradicated and the V.jacobsoni bred on the A. cerana for an extended period in Australia then continued exposure to our A. mellifera population could result in a V. jacobsoni mite switching over to A. mellifera.

The above reasons make it imperative that any Asian bees in Townsville are found and destroyed and that is why the current response has been undertaken. The response is to V.jacobsoni as this is the Emergency Plant Pest but the only way to find V. jacobsoni is to find Asian bees. Information that has been published says that when the V. jacobsoni switches over to A.mellifera, as has been the case in Papua New Guinea, that V. jacobsoni will not be able to reproduce on the Asian bee. So the only way that strain of V.jacobsoni could arrive in Australia is on A. mellifera and not A.cerana. It is most likely that the Asian bees in Townsville have come from Papua New Guinea but again I reiterate that the V.jacobsoni that has been found on the Asian bees in Townsville is not the strain that has switched over to A.mellifera in Papua New Guinea..

 Source: Trevor Weatherhead, Executive Director – Executive Director Australian Honey Bee Industry Council.  4 August, 2016

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