Understanding and Dealing with the Varroa Emergency

Varroa Destructor is an external parasite that attaches and feeds off the body fat of the honeybee (Apis Mellifera & Cerana). It breeds in the brood cells where the young feed on the proteins of the bee larvae severely weakening the young bee and transferring disease.

Varroa Destructor Emergency


14 March 2023 – Nine new cases of the varroa mite have been identified across the New South Wales Central Coast and Hunter regions in a major blow for authorities that have been working to contain the parasite. The Department of Primary Industries (DPI) says the infested premises are in Glen William, Brookfield, Sawyers Gully, Yarramalong, and as far south as Horsfield Bay, Woy Woy, Koolewong, and Umina Beach. The Central Coast’s red eradication zone has been extended and now covers almost the entire region.

The DPI said this meant all beehives and equipment in the affected areas would have to be destroyed and treatment of wild bee populations on the Central Coast would be prioritised to prevent the mite’s spread further south.

How did this all start? On Wednesday the 22nd June an initial detection of Varroa mite was found in sentinel hives at the port of Newcastle. A second confirmed detection in a commercial load of bees occurred within 10km on Saturday 25th June. An Emergency Order was put in place preventing beekeepers from moving or tampering with their hives unless performing surveillance action such as a ‘sugar shake’ or ‘alcohol wash’.

We ask our members to follow these orders in accordance with the directions from the Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI). Please see the following link for up to date information and news releases.


If you find varroa mite in a hive you are responsible for, notify NSW DPI by:

Please also follow the clubs Facebook page for the latest updates and news on whats happening and how it relates to members and our region.


Swarm prevention


The Emergency Response Fact Sheet from the NSW DPI is very clear with Beekeepers able to actively take some steps to reduce the occurrence of swarming, these are detiled below:

What can I do?

In the eradication (red) zone, you can:

  • place empty supers on hives to manage swarming if you are not on an infected or suspect premises.

In the notification (yellow), surveillance (purple), and general (blue) zones, you can:

  • place empty supers on hives to manage swarming.

An empty super is a honey super with empty frames that has not been in contact with bees for 21 days. Supers cannot be moved from any biosecurity zone. You must comply with the conditions set out in the emergency order.

Can I collect swarms?

Yes, as long as you are a registered bee keeper. If you collect the swarm, these bees become managed bees and they should be treated the same as any hives you have in each zone.

You can euthanise the swarm (the emergency order which prevents you from euthanising your own hives, doesn’t apply to feral swarms). If in a red or purple zone, you must notify NSW DPI of the swarm.

Varroa Mite Check instructions

See the videos below for a tutorial on actions to be taken in detecting mites in your hives. For a thorough check, the alcohol wash is recommended as it is very effective in removing the mite from the bees for detection but is lethal to the bees. The sugar shake method is non-lethal however may prove ineffective in some cases, more rigorous rolling/shaking will result in better mite dislodgement.


How to Sugar Shake to check for Varroa in your hive


How to Alchol Wash your bees to check for Varroa


Any questions or enquiries? Talk to us today!