Surveillance for exotic pests

Alcohol washing

Exotic Plant Pest HotlineAlcohol washing is a quick and effective method for detecting the presence of Varroa mites, as well as monitoring colony mite levels. The disadvantage of this method is that it kills the bees that are sampled. The alcohol wash method can remove 70-80 per cent of external Varroa mites present on adult honey bees. This method can also be used for Tropilaelaps mites and Braula fly surveillance, however, with less confidence because these pests are not present in large numbers of worker bees.

Alcohol washing (fact sheet) – Plant Health Australia

Alcohol washing (video) – NSW DPI and Tocal Agricultural College

Sugar shaking

Sugar shaking of honey bees is a passive method to detect external parasites such as Varroa mites, Tropilaelaps mites and Braula fly. It is a quick and easy method which does not kill the honey bees sampled. The method works by the fine sugar particles dislodging external parasites by stopping their sticky pads (feet) gripping onto honey bees and also by stimulating grooming behaviour of honey bees. The sugar is then separated from the bees and inspected for external parasites. The efficiency of this surveillance method increases the warmer the atmospheric temperature. This method will not detect very low infestations of external parasites in hives, and is not as effective as the alcohol wash method.

Sugar shaking (fact sheet) – Plant Health Australia

Sugar shaking (video) – NSW DPI and Tocal Agricultural College

Drone uncapping

In colonies with large brood nests, up to 85 per cent of Varroa mites can be found within capped brood cells, with a preference for drone brood. Therefore, uncapping drone brood and examining pupae is an effective method for detection of Varroa mites. This method is also effective for Tropilaelaps mites, which spend the majority of their lifecycle within honey bee brood.

Drone uncapping (fact sheet) – Plant Health Australia

Drone uncapping (video) – NSW DPI and Tocal Agricultural College

Sticky mat examination

Natural mite drop of external parasites, such as Varroa mites, is a proven method of monitoring and surveillance. To determine the natural mite drop, a sticky mat is placed on the bottom board of the hive and removed after 48 hours to examine for any external parasites, such as Varroa mites, Tropilaelaps mites and Braula fly.

Sticky mat examination (fact sheet) – Plant Health Australia

Sticky mat examination (video) – NSW DPI and Tocal Agricultural College

Colony examination for parasitic mite syndrome

It is critical to inspect all hives on a regular basis, especially the brood. This is an important management practice to determine and monitor the presence or absence of many established pests and diseases within Australia.

Colony examination procedure.