Three exotic pests have been identified as high priority pests of the honey bee industry. The climate of Australian honey bee producing areas would allow each of these pests to survive, spread and establish should they be introduced. Any of these pests would have serious consequences should they enter and become established in Australia.
For a complete list of exotic pest threats for the honey bee industry, refer to the Honey Bee Industry Biosecurity Plan available by contacting the Australian Honey Bee Industry Council (AHBIC).
Photo by Scott Bauer, USDA Agricultural Research Service, Bugwood.org
Varroa mites (Varroa destructor and V. jacobsoni)
External parasitic mites that feed on the haemolymph of both drone and worker bee larvae and pupae, and adult bees
Detection possible by close examination of brood or testing of adult bees
Symptoms include deformed pupae and adults (stunting, damaged wings, legs and abdomens), Parasitic Mite Syndrome and colony decline
Varroa mites can also spread viruses, further affecting the colony’s health and disease susceptibility
Pests in this category are established in Australia, some only in localised areas and some widespread. These established pests can rapidly affect the strength and productivity of honey bee colonies and are difficult and expensive to manage. Beekeepers should monitor their hives frequently to check for the presence of these pests.
Photo by Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera), Crown Copyright
American foulbrood (Paenibacillus larvae)
Fatal brood disease caused by a bacterium that is ingested by young bee larvae
Spores germinate in the bee’s gut and the developing bee usually dies at the pre-pupal or pupal stage
Symptoms include irregular brood patterns, sunken and discoloured cell cappings with perforations
Decaying infected larvae may be roped to a distance of 2-3 cm
The bacterium is very infectious and remains dormant for over 50 years
Present throughout Australia, but not confirmed in NT or Kangaroo Island
It is important to find out which pests are reportable in your local area. Some may have been found in your state or territory, but not in your region. If detected, contact your local department of agriculture.
Always obtain a health certificate which has been signed by an apiary inspector from the state or territory of origin before the interstate movement of honey bees, including queen bees, hives, honey bee products and used apiary equipment.