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Australia abandons effort to eradicate varroa mite after 14,000 bee hives destroyed

Beekeepers will have to learn to live with the deadly varroa mite following a national decision to shift from eradication to a management approach.

The invasive mite was first detected near Newcastle in NSW in June 2022.

More than 14,000 hives were euthanised in the following four months as authorities tried to halt the spread.

Despite a $100m effort to eradicate the pest over the past 14 months, scientific data and advice suggested the strategy was no longer possible.

The National Management Group, which manages the spread of varroa mite across Australia, made a unanimous decision on Tuesday to transition its approach to addressing the biosecurity issue confronting beekeepers and the pollination industry.

Non-compliance by some beekeepers, a recent spike in new detections and over a wider area made eradication a non-viable option, the group said.

The varroa mite mainly feeds and reproduces on larvae and pupae, causing malformation and weakening of honey bees and transmitting numerous viruses.

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There have been more than 260 outbreaks identified in the Newcastle region, on the NSW north coast near Coffs Harbour and as far inland as near the Victorian border since the parasite was first detected.

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