Varroa Mites & Protecting Our Bees

As an island nation, Australia has always had a unique opportunity when it comes to protecting itself from invasive pests. From farmers to beekeepers, we all work together to help protect our agricultural industry and the nation from many pests, weeds and even diseases that are common across the globe. An outbreak of Varroa Mites in Australia is once again threatening apiculture and wild bees alike. But what are these pests and what can be done to protect our bees?

What are Varroa Mites?

There are two species of these mites, Varroa Destructor and Varroa Jacobsoni. These tiny mites are the size of a pin-head and are parasites of honey bees. While Varroa Jacobsoni only affects Asian Honeybees, Varroa Destructor impacts both Asian and European Honeybees. Varroa Destructor is found all across the world, and Australia is one of only a few countries without an established population of these mites.

Varroa Mites feed on the bees when they are only pupae, weakening the bees, causing defects as they grow and making them more susceptible to other diseases and infections. The aggressive nature of these pests means they can quickly spread and destroy entire hives in a matter of months.

Varroa Mites on bee larva

Protecting the Bees

Bees are a vital part of our ecosystem, the honeybee does far more for us than just produce honey. In fact, one-third of all the food you eat relies on honeybees. They are critical for the pollination of the fruit, vegetables and nuts we eat as well as a range of other plants. Varroa Mites threaten the health of these vital insects.

Varroa Destructor can spread quickly from bee to bee making affected bees lethargic, impacting their ability to navigate and shortening their lifespan. In the same way that mosquitoes can carry dangerous diseases between people, these mites can also spread a host of harmful bee diseases.

Varroa Mites on bee

Protecting Our Industry

The honey and pollination industry in Australia is a huge industry vital to food production, horticulture and agriculture. Farmers work with beekeepers every day to ensure their crops, including apples, avocados, blueberries, macadamias, pumpkins, watermelons and more are pollinated. Bees and beekeepers play an invaluable role in producing what we eat and contribute $14.2 billion to the Australian economy every year.

If Varroa Mites were to become established in Australia it could very easily wipe out our entire honey and pollination industry. That is why the government and industry groups continue to work hard to eradicate any Varroa Mites on our shores.

Varroa Mites impact

How You Can Help

Beekeepers and others working in agriculture and horticulture across Australia are our first line of defence against the Varroa Mite. Not only are we protecting our bee population but also our livelihoods. The most impactful thing you can do as a consumer is to ensure you are buying 100% Australian honey, beeswax and other bee products. Imported beeswax and honeycomb in particular can be at risk of introducing Varroa Mites and other exotic pests to Australia.

It takes hard work from beekeepers, farmers, volunteers and many more people across the country to keep Varroa Mites away and to stop them from spreading. By supporting 100% Australian honey from local beekeepers, like Bellmere Honey, you are directly supporting us and our hives.

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