Varroa Mite on a bee. Photo: Western Australia Department of Agriculture.

A PARASITIC mite that attacks European honey bees has been found in Newcastle, sending ACT bees into a precautionary lockdown.

The movement of honey bees, used honey bee hives and equipment in the ACT will be restricted following the detection of the pest known as Varroa Destructor.

A statement today (July 5) from the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate (EPSDD) said: “Although there were no detections in the ACT, the Government of l ACT is taking the necessary steps to control the outbreak and minimize the risk to the territory.”

The restrictions apply to all bees and hives that have been in New South Wales at any time in the last six months, including bees and hives that have moved to other jurisdictions during this time .

According to Plant Health Australia, symptoms of Varroa infestation include significant reduction in the weight of worker bees and drones, reduced flight performance, lower rate of return to the colony after foraging, duration of reduced life and deformed wings and abdomens.

“Symptoms of the colony, or parasitic mite syndrome, include a reduction in the population of adult honey bees, loss of coordinated social behavior, misshapen and deformed honey bees, scattered brood with dead or uncapped brood, and rapid depopulation of honey bees in the colony.”

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Ian Meikle, editor