Varroa Mite threat to honeybees escalates

The Nationals are demanding immediate action from the Andrews Government to protect Victoria’s agriculture industry and honey producers to stop an extensive outbreak of varroa mite in the state.

Varroa mite has the potential to have a catastrophic impact on Gippsland’s honeybee populations and our agricultural industries that rely on crop pollination to thrive.

Australia was free of varroa mite until June 2022 when its presence was detected on the New South Wales coast.

Questioning Labor’s Minister for Agriculture in State Parliament, The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria, Melina Bath said Australia has had over 14 months notice of this pest being an enormous threat to our agricultural industry.

“The Nationals have warned the Minister for Agriculture that her department must have a comprehensive plan to deploy resources and prevent a widespread varroa mite outbreak in Victoria.

Last winter I met with members of the Gippsland Apiarists Association in Wiseleigh, East Gippsland to discuss industry concerns on the mites possible spread to Victoria and have held recent follow up conversations.

“Commercial apiarists and honey producers are fearful the Andrews Government hasn’t been sufficiently proactive in early detection and the implementation of control strategies.

“This highly destructive pest has now been detected in Sunraysia on the Victorian border and the possibility of further spread is significant.”

Ms Bath said the pollination of crops and fruit trees in our horticulture sector as well as home-based fruit and vegetable growers is likely to be compromised if the varroa mite becomes widespread in Victoria.

“The Andrews Government must focus on assisting commercial apiarists to have world’s best practice on varroa mite mitigation and containment.

“The economic value from the contribution of honeybees in crop production is valued at more than $14 billion nationally and $6 billion annually for Victoria.

“Given the importance of Victoria’s agriculture industry, the Andrews Government must expand bee biosecurity programs to better protect honeybee colonies and crop pollination.”