Honey bees and beekeeping

Bee pests and diseases

Alert

American foulbrood (AFB) disease has been found in the Northern Territory (NT).

If you suspect your hives are infected, you must call Biosecurity on 1800 084 881 or email plantbiosecurity@nt.gov.au.

Read more about AFB.

There are many harmful bees and bee pests which could seriously damage the Northern Territory (NT) honey bee industry.

If you are a beekeeper, you must be aware of your responsibilities and biosecurity requirements. You should be familiar with:

  • what the pests look like
  • symptoms
  • their effect on a honey bee colony.

Notifiable honey bee pests and diseases in the NT include:

Emergency

  • Tropilaelaps mite (Tropilaelaps clareae or T. mercedesae)
  • Varroa mites - Varroa destructor (Varroosis) or V. jacobsoni

Exotic

  • Acariasis tracheal mite (Acarapis woodi)

Endemic

  • European foulbrood (Melissococcus plutonius)
  • American foulbrood (Paenibacillus larvae)
  • Braula fly (Braula caeca)
  • Small hive beetle (Aethina tumida).

To find out more these pests, go to the BeeAware website.

If you suspect or confirm an endemic, emergency or exotic bee pest or disease, you must report it as soon as possible.

Call Plant Biosecurity on 08 8999 2118 or your local plant biosecurity officer.

Exotic pests and diseases are notifiable pests and diseases originating outside Australia and are usually not known to be present in Australia.

Exotic honey bee pests and diseases include:

  • African honey bee (Apis mellifera scutellata)
  • Africanized honey bee (Apis mellifera scutellata (hybrid))
  • Cape honey bee (Apis mellifera capensis)
  • Large hive beetle (Hoplostoma fuligineus)
  • Hornets (Vespa spp. (exotic species))
  • Deformed wing virus (Deformed wing virus (Iflavirus))
  • Slow paralysis virus (Slow paralysis virus (Iflavirus)).

To find out more these pests, go to the BeeAware website.

Endemic pests and diseases are present in Australia. They may or may not be present in the NT.

Endemic honey bee diseases include:

  • Asian honeybee (Apis cerana)
  • Black queen cell virus (Cripavirus)
  • Chalkbrood disease (Ascosphaera apis)
  • Greater wax moth (Galleria mellonella)
  • Lesser wax moth (Achroia grisella)
  • Nosemosis (Nosema apis and N. ceranae)
  • Sacbrood virus (Sacbrood virus (Iflavirus)).

Find out more about endemic honey bee pests on the BeeAware website.

Plant Health Australia co-ordinates the National Bee Pest Surveillance Program. It is an early-warning system to detect new occurrences of exotic bee pests. This includes pest bees.

The program monitors locations considered to be the most likely entry points for pests. For more information, go to the Plant Health Australia website.

All suspect bee pests and diseases should be reported for investigation.

Get training

To find out more, you can register for the Biosecurity for Beekeepers online training course.

The course:

  • provides guidance on how to care for honey bees in line with the code of practice
  • includes information on the main pest threats
  • shows how to check hives for signs of pests and diseases.

It's designed for people with a basic understanding of beekeeping practices, but is helpful to all beekeepers.

For more information, go to the Bee Aware website.

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Last updated: 12 November 2021

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