Pip Mailbox: Brains Trust

The recent detection of varroa mite (Varroa destructor) at the Port of Newcastle in New South Wales poses enormous challenges not just to Australia’s commercial honey industry, but to the pollination vital for producing the food we grow and eat.

Why is everyone up in arms about varroa mite?

Varroa mite is a parasite which feeds on both the brood and the blood of honey bees, weakening the colony, spreading viruses and, if left unchecked, eventually killing the hive. Varroa mites breed on larvae and pupae, which can cause malformed bees and reduced populations. Weak bees means a lower rate of how many bees return to the colony after foraging during the day, too. Until recently, Australia was the only honey-producing country in the world that had successfully kept varroa mite out.