Mite that could wipe out Australian bees detected in Melbourne

The potentially devastating varroa mite, which could wipe out the Australian beekeeping industry, has been detected in Victoria.

A bee colony infested with the varroa mite was detected on Wednesday at the Port of Melbourne on a ship from the United States.

A colony was found in a wooden crate and tests revealed some bees were infested with varroa mite, but the exact variety of the varroa mite is yet to be determined.

Australia is one of the last remaining countries in the world to be free of the blood-sucking varroa destructor, which has already devastated bee colonies in New Zealand, the United States, and Europe.

Varroa destructor is the breed of mite that affects European honey bees, which agriculture industries around the world rely on for pollination.

However, north Queensland has had recent incursions of the less dangerous varroa jacobsoni, which only infects Asian honey bees.

Agriculture Victoria chief health plant officer Nigel Ainsworth said the master of the ship reported seeing dead bees on the ship, which was immediately investigated by Agriculture Victoria and the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) upon docking at the Port of Melbourne.

Mr Ainsworth said the colony had been destroyed and Agriculture Victoria was “confident” the situation was contained to the single colony.

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