Varroa Mite control order removed

The Control Order was implemented following national agreement to move the Varroa mite emergency response to a transition to management program.

CONTROL measures relating to Varroa mite have been relaxed following ‘extensive industry consultation’, according to the NSW Department of Primary Industries.

The Biosecurity (Varroa Mite) Control Order (No.2) 2024 was removed last week, aiming to take away ‘undue regulatory burdens’ on beekeepers.

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The Control Order was implemented following national agreement to move the Varroa mite emergency response to a transition to management program, with the aim of slowing the spread of the pest whilst control options became available.

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Chief Plant Protection Officer Dr Shane Hetherington said there is no longer a need for Varroa-specific regulation over and above existing bee biosecurity responsibilities.

“This type of regulation is only warranted where there remains a significant risk to production or market failure to NSW beekeepers.

“We are confident that is no longer the case,” Dr Hetherington said.

“The Commonwealth advises that maintaining notification requirements for Varroa mite in NSW is sufficient to support trade in live bees, therefore, there is no risk of international market failure.

“NSW will maintain the requirement to notify the presence of Varroa and to control Varroa through the existing provisions of the NSW Biosecurity Act 2015 but remove other restrictions.

“This includes the zoning and subsequent movement restrictions in full, although beekeepers are still required to be compliant with the Australian Honey Bee Industry Biosecurity Code of Practice (the Code) and the General Biosecurity Duty under the Act which requires beekeepers to prevent, eliminate or minimise risks caused by Varroa.

“The continued reporting of results from hive monitoring by beekeepers is key to understanding where the mite is currently active.”

Due to the efforts of DPI, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA), Australian Honey Bee Industry Council and Varroa control manufacturers and suppliers, there is now a sufficient commercial supply of conventional and organic control options within Australia, and there are accessible pathways for direct import of these products.

Further options are currently subject to approval by the APVMA.

“NSW considers at this stage continuing to maintain a restricted set of approved treatments, treatment time frames and mite thresholds creates an inflexible and complicated regulatory regime for beekeepers which is counterproductive to the aims of the T2M program, stifles innovation and may lead to ineffective mite control and detrimental outcomes for bee health,” Dr Hetherington said.

“As beekeepers in the state undertake the available free training being offered under the program, there is no risk of production failure within NSW due to a lack of advice on pest management.

“This move is a positive for industry in NSW, as it learns to manage Varroa mite.”

For more information, visit the NSW DPI website.

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