Bee Pests and Bee Diseases

Pests & Diseases

Australian honey bees are free of the many bee pests and bee diseases found around the world making them some of the healthiest honey bees in the world.

The strength and productivity of a honey bee colony can be impacted by pests and diseases.  Every beekeeper (hobby or commercial) should be familiar with and understand

   *  the Australian bee biosecurity requirements in the Code of Practice
   *  pests and diseases and their management
   *  specific State or Territory requirements
   *  which pests and diseases are notifiable and who to contact.
Information on established and exotic bee pests and bee diseases for Australia, their management and biosecurity requirements and obligations can be found in the following links:

   * Biosecurity Code of Practice for beekeepers
   * Established Pests and Diseases in Australia, their symptoms, impact on the colony and the actions required if detected
   * Exotic Pests (not in Australia but affect colonies world wide) How to monitor your hives for early detection of any new pest to prevent these becoming established in Australia 
   * Notifiable Pests and Diseases in Qld and contact details for reporting
   * Qld Dept Agriculture and Fisheries
   *  BeeAware
   *  Plant Health Australia

If a hive becomes infected with American Foulbrood (AFB) or you are unsure which disease may be affecting your hive,
submit a BROOD SAMPLE and FORM to Qld Dept Agriculture & Fisheries (QDAF)

If you observe mites on bees, an exotic bee or a new bee pest or bee disease currently unknown in Australia 
call IMMEDIATELY the Exotic Pest Hotline or call QDAF on 13 25 23 or Qld Bee Biosecurity Officer     

Biosecurity Manual for Beekeepers

Bee Biosecurity Manual for Beekeepers

This book is
free to download

This is a 64 page, colour booklet.  Some of the topics covered include:

Biosecurity explained
Exotic and established pests
Keeping honey bees healthy
Inspecting hives
Pest surveillance
Barrier systems
Quality Assurance programmes
Biosecurity best practice check list
Fact sheets on pests and diseases

Varroa Mite

This is one of the most serious problems threatening honey bees in the world today.  Australia is now the only continent in the world that does not have the varroa mite. 

If you see or suspect the presence of varroa mites in Australia,
report IMMEDIATELY on the Exotic Pest Hotline, QDAF website or call on 13 25 23 or contact the Qld Bee Biosecurity Officer.

Asian Bees

Information, identification chart, report sightings and more.

In North Queensland there is an established pest population of Asian bees (Apis cerana, Java strain). To date it is still confined to North Queensland but has the potential to rapidly spread further, especially by transportation on land or by sea.

There are several strains of Asian bees throughout the world, many being kept in apiaries for honey production but the particular strain of Asian bee in North Queensland (Java strain) has unfavourable attributes.  Its “flighty” nature makes it difficult to box into a hive, keep in a hive, managed for honey production or for crop pollination.  It swarms prolifically, creates quite small nests, often into small cavities such as letter boxes or small bird nests, and produces only small amounts of honey.  

In the Solomon Islands it has all but wiped out the European honey bee population.  In Australia it is estimated that every third mouthful of food we eat requires pollination by honey bees.  Without European honey bees our food supply would be greatly diminished as many of our agricultural and horticultural crops are either totally dependent on or greatly benefit from honey bee pollination.

The Asian bee is the natural host of the devastating varroa mite.  Fortunately, the swarm of Asian bees (Apis cerana, java strain) that were found in Cairns in 2007 was not carrying this mite.  The Asian bee is now endemic in the known infested areas in the Cairns area in North Queensland but carry no varroa mites.  However, there have been new incursions into Townsville in 2016, 2019 and 2020 and varroa mites (Varroa jacobsoni) were found.  These incursions are the subject of the National Varroa Mite Eradication program.

As the asian bee is the natural host of the Varroa mite (Varroa jacobsoni) report IMMEDIATELY ANY different looking bee, nest or swarm, especially if outside the known infested areas by phoning:
Exotic Pest Hotline
QDAF on 13 25 23 
Qld Bee Biosecurity Officer
or visit QDAF website.