Media statement: Detection of Asian honey bees in Townsville

​​​The Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources was alerted to a detection of suspected Asian honey bees in a container stand in a storage yard at the Port of Townsville in Queensland on 27 June 2016.

The hive and bees were collected by biosecurity officers. They have since been identified as Asian honey bee (Apis cerana) with Varroa jacobsoni mites present. Further testing is underway to identify the origin of the bees and the form of the mites.

Australia has well established arrangements in place to respond to exotic pests, such as varroa, when they are detected. These emergency arrangements involving government and industry will see all efforts put in place to prevent this significant pest from becoming established.

The department and the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) have undertaken subsequent surveillance activities in the area—including baiting and trapping—with no further bees detected to date. Surveillance will continue under the lead of DAF.

While there is an established Asian honey bee population in and around Cairns, varroa mites are not known to be present in that population or in Australia outside the current detection and the Torres Strait (quarantine) Protected Zone.

The Varroa jacobsoni mites detected in Townsville was on Asian honey bees (Apis cerana). It is currently believed that these forms of varroa mites do not readily transfer between host species - that is, if the mite is found on Asian honey bees, it does not readily move to European honey bees.

To find out how the government is working to keep the threat of varroa out of Australia.

For information about Asian honey bees in Australia.

If you think you may have Asian honey bees or varroa in your hive, please call the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881.

For further information on response activities, contact DAF on (07) 3404 6999.

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