July 2014 | Future of Bee Keeping in Australia | Rural and Regional Affairs report

Varroa mite
3.17 – Varroa mites were originally natural external parasites of the Asian honey
bee. However in recent decades they have adjusted to living on the European honey bee and established themselves around the world. Varroa mites are pinhead sized mites that feed on both larvae and adult bees, causing the development of infections or deformities, such as stunted wings or missing legs, and continue to diminish the health of the bee colony until all are dead.

3.18 – Varroa mites have spread to all inhabited continents except Australia, as
depicted in Figure 1 below.  In the United States of America and Europe, 95–100 percent of unmanaged hives were destroyed by varroa mites within three to four years of infestation.  In countries where varroa mite is established, feral honey bees have been largely wiped out. In New Zealand feral bees largely vanished from the North Island within four years of the varroa mite invasion.

3.19 – During its public hearing in Murray Bridge, the committee heard evidence to suggest that almost all feral and wild bee populations, including the 1500 species of native bees, would be exterminated if varroa become established in Australia.

Figure 1—Current varroa mite distribution (2010)

July 2014 Future of Bee Keeping in Australia  Rural and Regional Affairs report

Red areas indicate establishment of varroa destructor

Department of Agriculture, Varroa mite, http://www.daff.gov.au/animal-plant-health/pestsdiseases-
weeds/animal/varroa-mite/
, (accessed 8 January 2014).

Department of Agriculture, Varroa mite, http://www.daff.gov.au/animal-plant-health/pestsdiseases-
weeds/animal/varroa-mite/
, (accessed 28 January 2014).

University of Florida, Featured Creatures,
http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/misc/bees/varroa_mite.htm, (accessed 5 June 2014)

 

 

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