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Varroa Mite NSW Emergency Response Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

10 August 2022

The information contained in this document if for general information purposes only.  You should not rely upon this information for making business, legal or any other decisions.  Any reliance you […]

The information contained in this document if for general information purposes only.  You should not rely upon this information for making business, legal or any other decisions.  Any reliance you place on this information is strictly at your own risk.

Surveillance Activities

  1. What are the plans with feral hive sampling? Any detections?

Feral hives in red zones are investigated if they are reported.  There is currently a ‘Feral Hive Management Plan’ that has been written by the DPI and is being approved by incident control managers.  This plan will guide the destruction of feral colonies in eradication zones. 

  1. Will sentinel hives be used after the initial eradication phase is complete?

Yes, post baiting and following all eradication activities.


Movement Controls Orders (MCOs)

  1. Can beekeepers get permits to move gear for Steritech irradiation in Brisbane (QLD) from purple, yellow or blue zones?

No, AHBIC is requesting that Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries develop protocols that will enable material to be transported for irradiation.

  1. Can material from euthanised hives post 21 days following petrol treatment be moved out of red zones?

No, hive material from red zones must not be moved unless an individual permit is granted.  This can be applied for through the hotline 1800 084 881.

  1. Can hive material at a shed not used for 21 days be moved to another zone?

No, hive material must stay within their zone.  You can move material from outer zones, such as from blue to yellow, however the material must stay within the yellow zone after it is moved.  It is possible to apply for an individual permit to allow certain movement through the hotline 1800 084 881.

  1. Is queen rearing or grafting permitted in zones?

For the management of hives and swarming, queen rearing or grafting is only permitted within an apiary premise/property.

  1. Can NSW queen bees or queen cells be moved within NSW zones?

Not currently, there are protocols for queen movement being developed. 

  1. Can a beekeeper service more than one apiary within a given zone?

Only if the apiaries are on the same property/premise.  Multiple apiaries cannot be worked concurrently if they are on separate properties.  This rule is being revisited by the DPI.

  1. How often do beekeepers need to do alcohol washes between apiary movements?

Hives to be moved in the NSW blue general zone are assessed with alcohol wash prior to movement at the rate specified by epidemiology.  NSW DPI requires a minimum of 64 hives to be assessed across the loads being moved, once the number hits 640 washes, 10% of the remaining hives must be alcohol washed.  

  1. Will zones change?

Risk assessments are being done by DPI that will consider a risk-based approach to changing or reducing zone sizes. This will include the protocol that can confirm proof of freedom and the removal of the zone.  DPI are conscious of the impact of the current restrictions and have undertaken to make industry aware of what are the expected timelines for assessments to be complete.  

  1. Is Tocal College’s high value queen bees and genetics being treated differently?

No, regardless of media reports, Tocal College queen bee stock will be subject to the same high-value genetic preservation protocols as other queen bee breeders.  Whilst the protocol is recognised as an important necessity by incident management, industry is yet to see final protocols following epidemiology and risk assessment advice.

  1. Where is the protocol for preserving live queen high-value genetics at? 

Any new protocol or change must have an associated risk assessment.  The high-value genetics protocol is being developed and is informed by the risk assessment.  This protocol is in the final stages of being developed.        

  1. Can you harvest honey from hives to be euthanised in red eradication zones?

Beekeepers within the red eradication zones are permitted to remove honey from their infected hives, only if a DPI Authorised Officer has advised the hive will be euthanised in the following 48 hours.  There are strict protocols that need to be followed.  Extracted supers cannot be moved outside of the eradication zone.

  1. How long can I expect to be excluded from red zones?

Currently, 3 years from the site being declared as free of mites.  We are seeking advice and direction on what can be done for commercial beekeepers whose home base sheds are located within the controlled zones.

Note: Significant penalties apply if you do not follow the requirements of the Biosecurity Emergency Order.


Miticide Strip & Sticky Matt Surveillance

  1. What miticide will be used for surveillance activities?

The miticide strips permitted for use in broad surveillance is the product Bayvarol® (active ingredient: flumethrin). This treatment has the lowest residue risk and is not harmful to the bees. 

  1. How many mite strips will be placed in my hives for surveillance?

20 hives per beekeeper entity will have strips and mats deployed.  Please be advised this number is based on an epidemiological assessment and the relevant science.  DPI expect the surveillance activities to be undertaken at imminent pollination events, which will enable the assessment of approximately 15% of the commercial beekeeper’s hives in NSW.

Industry can expect strip and mat surveillance of apiaries in NSW to become more widespread outside of just pollination events.  DPI are employing some 26 new Surveillance Officers to achieve this task.

  1. Are miticide strips and sticky mats better than alcohol washes?

Miticide strips are more effective at killing mites and give a better indication of any low level Varroa mite infestation in a hive than other methods.  Unlike alcohol washes, they do not harm or kill bees but is much slower to gain results.  The sticky mats that collect dead mites will be analysed by DPI at a specialised entomology laboratory.  Miticide strips and sticky mats are the best form of surveillance for Varroa.

  1. Will I be informed when strips and sticky mats are placed in my hives?

The intent is that DPI will get messaging out to all beekeepers that are sending hives to pollination on the process. A condition of the group permit, which has allowed the move, is that hives will be subject to surveillance.  Every beekeeper should expect that the deployment of strips and sticky mats will occur. In some cases, the beekeepers will not be physically there, however, the surveillance teams will be contacting the respective almond farms prior to any activityHives with strips and mats will be clearly marked by the DPI teams.


For further information refer to the DPI website