What was hoped to be an isolated detection has turned into a far greater threat forming a cluster with a further two Varroa mite infestations detected in Kempsey.
Boosted tracing and surveillance activities in the area have uncovered a new cluster of Varroa mite infestations, with a further two infested premises (IPs) identified today.
NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) deputy incident controller, Dr Shannon Mulholland said it is likely more infested premises will be identified, however low mite counts at the three IPs suggest the parasite has been detected at an early level of infestation.
"We have an evolving situation in the Kempsey area, and we don't believe we have yet discovered the main case, which has resulted in NSW DPI issuing a new Biosecurity Emergency Order to lock down hive movements to reduce any further spread," Dr Mulholland said.
"The first of these new detections was identified through a beekeeper undertaking a mandatory 16-week alcohol wash and reporting suspected mites.
"The second case was discovered as part of response surveillance activities.
"Beekeepers in the Kempsey area, and those who have moved hives from the region, are encouraged to immediately conduct an alcohol wash and report the results to NSW DPI.
"We extend our thanks to those beekeepers who are being so proactive, as their cooperation and support is allowing NSW DPI and its partners to undertake such a significant biosecurity response.
"By working together, we can eradicate Varroa mite and support Australia's $437 million honey industry and $14.2 billion pollination dependent industries."
Intensive priority surveillance will continue over the coming days and weeks.
"NSW DPI has already undertaken urgent priority surveillance on over 200 hives in the area, and tracing of hive movements through or from the area or related to the existing IPs is underway," Dr Mulholland said.
"We don't know how long the cluster of mites has been in the area, however, it is clear it's not a result of environmental spread from existing eradication zones, but likely due to human activity.
"We are working with local Police, Highway Patrol and the NSW Rural Crime team to monitor hive movements and to enforce compliance with the control order movement restrictions."
The Varroa mite Emergency Response is overseen by the Consultative Committee on Emergency Plant Pests (representing all jurisdictions of government and sixteen industry members) and the National Management Group (senior Varroa industry party representatives including beekeeping groups and pollination-reliant industry groups as well as all state and Commonwealth governments).
For more information visit: www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/varroa