Varroa frequently asked questions

Transition to management of Varroa mite

What must all beekeepers do?

Beekeepers must regularly inspect their hives for pests and diseases.   Beekeepers must report all detections of varroa mite. Report Varroa detections here.

Can I catch a swarm to start a managed colony?

There are no longer any restrictions on catching swarms in any area of NSW, except that you must be registered as a beekeeper and understand your obligations, including monitoring for and managing pests and diseases including Varroa.

It is advised to consider if a swarm may be infested with Varroa, particularly in the areas where larger numbers of infestations have been detected.  If beekeepers wish to catch a swarm to start a managed colony, the swarm may already be infested with Varroa, so NSW DPIRD recommends beekeepers complete a surveillance action immediately to determine if Varroa is present.

Find out more about managing hives - Managing your hives with Varroa

For more information on catching swarms, and finding someone to help contact the Amateur Beekeepers Association

Do I still need to register as a beekeeper and declare the location of my hives?

It is mandatory for all beekeepers to register with NSW DPIRD. You can register at the NSW DPIRD website here  - Beekeeper registration

I was in a Management (orange) Control Zone, when can I have bees again?

There are no longer any restrictions on keeping bees in any area of NSW.  Beekeepers must be registered and comply with their obligations to monitor and manage pests and diseases including varroa.   Refer to the Varroa heat map for an indication of the prevalence of Varroa in your area.

When you restart your hives, NSW DPIRD website has a wealth of information on the importance of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and managing overall hive health, including treatment thresholds for Varroa management depending on colony phase.  For more information visit the Managing your hives with Varroa page.

What is happening with the Wild European Honey Bee Management Program and feeder stations?

The Wild European Honey Bee Management Program has completed baiting activities and all feeder stations have been decommissioned. With the transition to management staff have successfully completed a number of research projects to assist the beekeeping industry. This has included verification of no residual fipronil in hives affected by the baiting program and the testing the effectiveness of drone ballooning as a chemical free and non-invasive method of varroa mite surveillance.

I was in a former red eradication zone - can I still opt-in to voluntary hive euthanasia and receive ORC?

The deadline for registered beekeepers in former red eradication zone to opt-in to have their hives euthanised by NSW DPIRD in order to apply for owner reimbursement costs (ORC) has now passed.

When will ORC payments be finalised?

All ORC payments have now been settled.

Can bees or hives be moved interstate?

Beekeepers from Suppression Control Zones in NSW wishing to move empty hive equipment north over the border can now apply to Biosecurity Queensland.

Biosecurity Queensland advise they have recommenced issuing permits for the movement of empty hives and hive parts for irradiation.

The Queensland Government are also continuing to assess other low risk movements such as the transport of full and empty supers into the state.

On submission of a permit a Biosecurity Officer from the department will contact applicants and advise if the application has been successful and the conditions of the permit.

To apply for a Queensland carrier permit application, visit  Varroa mite carrier permit application (

What is the change to the Varroa mite emergency response?

Varroa mite was first detected in DPIRD surveillance hives at the Port of Newcastle in June 2022. The Varroa mite Response was established immediately thereafter, and became a national response funded and supported by Commonwealth and state and territory governments as well as contributing industries.

On 19 September 2023, the National Management Group (made up of all states, the Commonwealth and 16 industry partners) reached a decision that eradication was no longer technically feasible the response moved from an eradication program to a management approach.

On 13 February 2024 the National Management Group (NMG) approved the next phase of the national Transition to Management (T2M)plan for Varroa mite. The T2M plan aims to increase resilience and minimise ongoing impacts of varroa mite naturalisation across Australia’s bee and pollination-dependent industries.

Is Varroa mite now out of control?

The mite is still contained to NSW, and the response to date has enabled a detailed understanding of the spread and risk of new detections.

The NSW Government is working with all the national stakeholders to reallocate resources to slow the spread of the pest and providing management options to help minimise its impact.

Why has the Varroa mite response moved to management?

The NMG considered the following major factors for why eradication had not reached its desired objectives:

  • The number of new detections in Kempsey in the later part of 2023 and subsequent movements from Kempsey, made it clear that the Varroa mite infestation was more widespread and had also been present for longer  than first thought.
  • The increase in new detections and the subsequent expansion of the Eradication Emergency Zone to greater than 17,800km2 had stretched the eradication team’s responses to its technical limit.

Why did we try to eradicate Varroa mite?

When Varroa mite was first detected in sentinel hives in June 2022, the infestation was assessed as being technically feasible to eradicate, and so an eradication response commenced.  

The NMG agreed the most appropriate course of action was to first undertake to eradicate Varroa mite because of the impacts it could potentially have on primary industries in NSW and across Australia.

The NMG considered learnings from across the world in deciding on the response in Australia.

What changes now that there will be a transition from ‘eradication’ to ‘management’?

Following the decision on 19 September 2023 to no longer focus on eradication of Varroa mite in Australia, work commenced on a National Management Plan for Transition to Management.

On 12 February 2024 the National Management Group (NMG) approved the next phase of the national Transition to Management (T2M) plan for Varroa mite. The T2M plan aims to increase resilience and minimise ongoing impacts of varroa mite naturalisation across Australia’s bee and pollination-dependent industries.

Training is available to beekeepers to enable them to meet their obligations to monitor and treat their own bees for pests and diseases including Varroa.  The APVMA has assessed and approved various miticide products suitable for use under Australian conditions.  Beekeepers must ensure that only approved chemicals are used, and that that those chemicals are used in accordance with APVMA regulations.

Will eradication efforts, such as euthanasia of hives, continue?

Mandatory euthanising of hives ceased following the decision by the NMG to move to management.

The Wild European Honeybee Management Program has also ceased the widespread use of fipronil.

What is happening in terms of compliance for beekeepers who have illegally moved beehives or not reported Varroa mite?

NSW DPIRD compliance team has been working with industry and NSW Police to ensure compliance in movements of hives since the beginning of the response.

There are currently 18 open investigations of illegal activity, and 35 penalty notices have been issued.

Through the response, more than 600 high risk beekeepers have been identified, investigated and interviewed, with 108 of these proceeding to high level investigations.

How much effort has the response team put in since Varroa mite was initially detected?

As at the time of the decision to transition to management of Varroa mite, the emergency response team in NSW had:

  • Conducted surveillance on more than 30,000 hives
  • Removed more than 27,000 hives from red eradication zones
  • Established more than 1100 wild bee baiting stations across the current eradication zones to remove infested colonies and prevent further spread.

Over 2000 people across 13 agencies and industry have committed over 552,000 work hours (approximately 63 years).

Nationally, $101 million has been spent so far across the response.