Apis cerana & Varroa Jacobsoni in Townsville – Update No. 5

Apis cerana & Varroa Jacobsoni in Townsville – Update No. 5

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I provide this update not because there are any new developments in Townsville but I have had two (2) phone calls today asking questions from information that seems to be circulating that is not correct. I thought I needed to correct that misinformation.

Firstly I appreciate the fact that these two (2) people have phoned me to clarify what they have heard. I have been able to correct the situation for them.

The story that seems to be circulating is that the Varroa jacobsoni in Townsville is the one that is on Apis mellifera in Papua New Guinea. This is not the case.

The V. jacobsoni in Townsville is the one from the Asian bee, Apis cerana. Expert advice received is that this mite will not reproduce on A. mellifera in the short term in Australia. From the experience in Papua New Guinea there are grounds to believe that if the A. cerana in Townsville was not eradicated and the V. jacobsoni bred on the A. cerana for an extended period in Australia then continued exposure to our A. mellifera population could result in a V. jacobsoni mite switching over to A. mellifera.

The above reasons make it imperative that any Asian bees in Townsville are found and destroyed and that is why the current response has been undertaken. The response is to V. jacobsoni as this is the Emergency Plant Pest but the only way to find V. jacobsoni is to find Asian bees.

Information that has been published says that when the V. jacobsoni switches over to A. mellifera, as has been the case in Papua New Guinea, that V. jacobsoni will not be able to reproduce on the Asian bee. So the only way that strain of V. jacobsoni could arrive in Australia is on A. mellifera and not A. cerana.

It is most likely that the Asian bees in Townsville have come from Papua New Guinea but again I reiterate that the V. jacobsoni that has been found on the Asian bees in Townsville is not the strain that has switched over to A. mellifera in Papua New Guinea.

If you hear something that is different to what has been put out, please feel free to contact me at any time to clarify the situation. It is crucial that any misinformation is quickly corrected before it does any damage. Things like social media have their pluses but they also have their minuses if information is posted that is not correct.

Trevor Weatherhead
Executive Director
4 August, 2016

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Read previous articles here:

APIS CERANA IN TOWNSVILLE – NO. 1

APIS CERANA IN TOWNSVILLE – NO. 2

APIS CERANA IN TOWNSVILLE – NO. 3

APIS CERANA IN TOWNSVILLE – NO. 4

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