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Bee Services Clarenza owner Steve Fuller says moving to manage the Varroa Mite incursion was a long time coming but is a step forward for the struggling industry. Image: Lynne Mowbray

Managing Varroa Mite “a step forward”

Rodney Stevens


The battle to prevent Varroa Mite has entered a new phase with the National Management Group approving the Transition to Management plan to manage the invasive pest, a move one of the region’s largest beekeepers says is a step in the right direction.

First detected at the Port of Newcastle in June 2022, the Varroa Mites invasion in NSW has resulted in the destruction of more than 30,000 bee hives.

The Varroa Mite response was immediately established, which became a national response, funded and supported by Commonwealth, state and territory governments and contributing industries.

Varroa Mites are tiny red-brown coloured parasites that mainly feed on bee larvae and pupae, and can cause malformations in bees, transmit honeybee viruses and if left uncontrolled, can kill entire bee colonies.

They spread when male drone bees move from hive to hive, and apiary to apiary.

On February 13, 2024, the National Management Group moved to the management phase which aims to increase resilience and minimise ongoing impacts of Varroa Mite naturalisation across Australia’s bee and pollination dependent industries.

President of the Crop Pollination Association of Australia, Bee Services owner Steve Fuller said transitioning to managing Varroa Mite was the right move and a long time coming.

“We were never going to eradicate the Varroa Mite, so once we started transitioning to management the sooner businesses got back to a bit of normality,” he said.

“The plan, even though there is still a lot to be decided, it’s a step forward.”

Mr Fuller said beekeepers with hives in the Nana Glen and Station Creek areas had been significantly impacted by Varroa Mites.

“There are a fair few people (with hives) in the Nana Glen area where Varroa was discovered in July 2022, and it also was discovered down in Station Creek in late 2023,” he said.

“Those people, ourselves included, there was a fair few beekeepers tied up in that which was sad to see because we are struggling.”

The last five years have been a traumatic time for beekeepers.

“There’s been a lot more going on in the industry than just Varroa,” Mr Fuller said.

“We’ve had low honey prices, diesel prices have been very expensive, and before we had the Varroa incursion we had the floods, and before that we had the fires, so it’s been four or five very hard beekeeping years.”

Clarenza based Bees Services have gone from 5000 hives pre-Varroa Mite to currently running 2300, and Mr Fuller said it will take the next two years to replenish his bee stock.

“We lost 300 hives in the euthanising part of the plan in 2022, and since then having to do as the orders stated, prevented us from working our hives or moving them when we saw fit, so we lost about another 500 hives,” he said.

“Our business is down about $1.5 million in income this year.”

For more information on the NSW DPI Varroa Mite Transition to Management visit,as%20well%20as%20contributing%20industries